Our Opinion: Safety diffuses frightening combination

Halloween's arrival on a Saturday this year creates a frightening combination, unless safety is observed by motorists and trick-or-treaters.

Drinking and driving mixed with increased pedestrian traffic historically has been dangerous, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

A story from the Denver Business Journal reports the Saturday Halloween is expected to increase the number of DUI arrests by more than four times the number on a weekday Halloween. The journal cited a Denver-area company, Alcohol Monitoring Systems Inc., which said: "When Halloween falls on a Saturday, drinking violations skyrocket four-and-a-half times compared to the average increase when Halloween falls on any other day of the week."

Even when Saturday is removed from the equation, Halloween statistics are scary. From 2008-12, according to the NHTSA, 21 percent of pedestrian fatalities on Halloween night involved a drunk driver.

Last year in Missouri, one fatality and four injuries involving pedestrians under age 16 were reported, according to the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety.

The coalition reminds motorists to watch for:

• Increased pedestrian volume. Neighborhoods that don't normally have a lot of pedestrian and bicycle traffic may experience an increase on Halloween night.

• Changing patterns. Excited children trying to visit as many houses as possible in a short amount of time may forget to stop, look and listen as they cross the street.

• The unexpected. The coalition urges motorists to be alert in areas where cars are parked along the side of the street because trick-or-treaters may suddenly dart from between parked cars.

Parents and caregivers are encouraged to escort children and to be sure their costumes include bright, reflective clothing or tape. In addition, a range of Halloween events are available as alternatives to going door to door.

Halloween, Saturday, a higher incidence of impaired drivers and a larger number of excited children combine to create a potentially dangerous brew this year.

Sobriety, vigilance and an emphasis on safety are paramount his Halloween.

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