Ghouls, Goblins and Drunk Drivers All Out During Halloween

The ghouls are out for Halloween, but that means a lot of others are too: children, parents and, unfortunately, impaired motorists.

Insurance companies and public safety officials are wishing everyone across the U.S. a happy Halloween with a handful of safety messages.

“State Farm wants children to be safe every day of the year, whether they are inside or outside of a car,” Kellie Clapper, a State Farm spokeswoman, said in a statement.

Scary Statistics for Kids

Public officials are citing estimates from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention that children are four times more likely to get hit by a car on Halloween than on any other day of the year.

And, last week, State Farm released data it culled from the federal Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) showing that there is a higher chance of a child being killed by a car on Halloween than any other day of the year.

According to the study, the number of fatalities among pedestrians aged 18 years old and younger on Halloween outpaced figures from Fourth of July and New Year’s Day between 1990 and 2010. The 115 child pedestrian deaths meant a 21-year average of 5.5 fatalities on Halloween, which is more than double the average number of deaths on other days (2.6).

However, the number of deaths has been dropping and has been under the 5.5 average in each of the last six years, according to the study.

The study found that young drivers posed the greatest risk, making up almost 30 percent of all fatal collisions with child pedestrians, while drivers ages 36-40 and 61-65 posed the least risk, together making up only 8 percent of child pedestrian deaths.

Among the other findings:
–More than half (60 percent) of those collisions occurred between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m.
–Those aged 12 to 15 years old were most at risk for fatalities, accounting for 32 percent of the total.
–More than 70 percent of collisions occurred in the “middle of the block,” away from the intersections and crosswalks.

Insurance Companies, Officials Offer Tips

Along with warnings comes a lot of roadway advice for kids as they hit the sidewalks for sweets tonight.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offered the following tips:
–Avoid trick-or-treating alone. Walk in groups or with a trusted adult.
–Hold a flashlight while trick-or-treating to help you see and others see you. Always walk and don’t run from house to house.
–Look both ways before crossing the street. Use established crosswalks wherever possible.
–Walk on sidewalks whenever possible, or on the far edge of the road facing traffic to stay safe.

Allstate advises parents to:
–Get a “healthy supply of glow sticks” that trick-or-treaters can substitute as a flashlight to “ensure they’re plainly visible from near or afar.”
–Remember to fully charge your cell phone in case of emergency.
–Make sure a costume isn’t impeding vision because blocked eyesight can make kids “much more likely to wander into traffic.”
–Impose a curfew.

Progressive advises drivers to:
–Drive slowly and don’t pass stopped vehicles, since they “might be dropping off children.”
–Watch for children darting into the street.
–Yield to young pedestrians.
–Communicate with other drivers.

Need a last-minute costume? Progressive also offered this last-minute guide to “Dress Like Flo.” Halloweeners need only to get 11 accessories, watch three videos, learn her lingo—and maybe nab a place on the Madison Avenue Advertising “Walk of Fame.”

Sober Driving Even More Important During Halloween

Many of the accidents that occur on Halloween are attributed to impaired and drunk drivers. NHTSA is continuing its “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign and is holding “Halloween Impaired Driving Prevention” week that runs from Oct. 25 through Nov. 4.

According to the NHTSA, 41 percent of all highway deaths during Oct. 29 to Nov. 1 in 2010, dubbed “the Halloween period,” involved motorists who had blood alcohol concentrations above the 0.08 legal limit.

If the safety and legal implications aren’t enough to dissuade you from driving impaired, consider the coverage implications. DUIers face being branded an especially risky driver that will force them to get high risk insurance coverage that is harder to find and almost always more expensive.

OnlineAutoInsurance.com conducted an analysis of quotes from more than eight California insurers to find out what happens to drivers’ insurance rates after a DUI and found that getting a violation could increase rates between 25 and 97 percent.

About John Pirro
John Pirro is a licensed fire and casualty insurance agent specializing in various aspects of the auto insurance industry. He worked in the auto body repair industry before taking a reporting position at Online Auto Insurance News.

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