FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 27, 2021
CONTACT: Pete Daniels / firstname.lastname@example.org / 301-442-2249 (C)
Statement from Cathy Chase, President, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates), on Road Safety During Halloween
Excited children walking on sidewalks and roadsides and crossing streets, the earlier onset of darkness, and people driving while impaired or distracted contribute to our roadways being a scary place on Halloween. The relative risk of a pedestrian fatality on Halloween rises by more than 40 percent compared to similar days a week earlier or later; and, the highest relative risk increase is with children ages 4-8, according to a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association. Roadway safety risks may be even greater this year considering the upward trend in crash fatalities in 2020, which were driven by increases in deadly behaviors such as speeding, fewer people buckling up and impaired driving, and appears to be continuing in early 2021. To ensure a safe and enjoyable Halloween for all trick-or-treaters, partygoers, and road users, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) urges everyone getting behind the wheel to drive responsibly and obey all highway safety laws.
Additionally, proven vehicle safety technologies, which are available on some new cars usually for an upcharge, could be preventing crashes on Halloween and all times of the year. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has found that vehicles with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), including automatic emergency braking (AEB), lane departure warning (LDW) and blind spot warning (BSW), have significantly lower crash rates than those without the systems. IIHS also determined that technology that passively detects impairment and curbs impaired driving could prevent more than 9,000 deaths on our roadways each year if widely used. Moreover, the best performing headlights on the market have been demonstrated to reduce the likelihood of nighttime crashes, which account for a large majority (76 percent) of pedestrian fatalities, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In each of these cases, action by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is urgently needed to advance these game-changing safety upgrades by issuing minimum performance standards and requiring them as standard equipment in new vehicles.
For drivers and passengers on the road during the Halloween weekend, buckling up is critically important to reducing death and injury in crashes. Primary enforcement seat belt laws that apply to all occupants are effective in getting people to buckle up, yet 30 states still need to enact this lifesaving law. A study found that adults are not buckling up in the rear seat as much as they are in the front seat, with rear seat belt use ten to 15 percent lower than in the front seat. Unbelted rear seat passengers pose a serious threat to the driver and other vehicle occupants, as well as themselves. Advocates urges every state without a primary enforcement all-occupant seat belt law to enact this commonsense countermeasure.
We do not need magic mirrors or a witch’s crystal ball to see the path towards reducing preventable motor vehicle crashes. Requiring vehicle safety upgrades and adopting sensible traffic safety laws is the “treat” all road users deserve on Halloween and every day.
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety is an alliance of consumer, medical, public health, law enforcement, and safety groups and insurance companies and agents working together to improve road safety in the U.S. Advocates’ mission is the adoption of federal and state laws, policies and programs that prevent motor vehicle crashes, save lives, reduce injuries, and contain costs.