Provided by Taylen Peterson, NHTSA R7 communications contractor
This Halloween, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Region 7 Office, is partnering with the State Highway Safety Offices in Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska to remind everyone that Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving.
Drivers should be extra cautious on Halloween, as more pedestrians are out at night on the hunt for candy and more drivers are heading to and from parties. If your evening includes travel to a party or festivity, make sure you plan for a sober ride home. If you’re the designated driver, honor that commitment for yourself, your passengers, and the other drivers and pedestrians on the road. Remember: It’s never safe to drink and drive.
For most, Halloween is a night to trick-or-treat, get creative with costumes, and enjoy the seasonal festivities. Unfortunately, for some families, the evening has become a nightmare. Between 2017 and 2021, there were 159 drunk-driving fatalities on Halloween night (6 p.m. October 31 – 5:59 a.m. November 1). Adults between the ages of 21 and 34 had the highest percentage (55%) of fatalities in drunk-driving crashes on Halloween night in 2021. That same night, 17 pedestrians were killed. One point that is critical to remember every night, but especially on Halloween with the holiday’s increase in pedestrians (trick or treaters): you need to do your part to be sober and vigilant when driving.
“No matter what your Halloween festivities include, make sure your party plans account for a sober ride home if you’ll be out drinking,” said Regional Administrator Susan DeCourcy. “We want our community to have a fun Halloween but, more importantly, a safe Halloween. If you choose to drink alcohol, drink responsibly and do not drive! Even one drink can impair judgment. You should never put yourself or others at risk because you choose to drink and drive. Remember: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving.”
According to NHTSA data, there were 13,384 motor vehicle crash-related deaths involving alcohol-impaired drivers in 2021. This represented 31% of all traffic fatalities in the United States for the year and a 14.2% increase from 2020. Do not contribute to these senseless deaths by driving impaired this Halloween. Drivers should also watch out for unpredictable pedestrians — whether they are children trick-or-treating or adults who have had too much to drink. Walking on or near roadways while intoxicated can also be deadly, as a lack of attention to surroundings could put pedestrians at risk of getting hit by a vehicle.
“Thousands of families and children will be out on Halloween night,” said DeCourcy. “We expect drivers to refrain from driving after drinking on Halloween night and every single day. Let’s work together to keep our community safe,” she said.
Nationally, it is illegal to drive with a BAC of .08 or higher, except in Utah, where the limit is .05 g/dL. In addition to the danger in which you place others while driving impaired, your wallet can see consequences. If you’re caught drinking and driving, you could face jail time, lose your driver’s license and your vehicle, and pay up to $10,000 in attorney’s fees, fines, car towing, higher insurance rates, and lost wages — much more expensive than a taxi or rideshare.
No one should mix drinking and driving, and no one is immune to the effects of drunk driving. If you find yourself drunk and stranded with your vehicle, follow these tips to keep you and others safe:
- Give your keys to a sober driver who can safely drive you home or call a taxi/rideshare.
- Remind your friends to never get in the vehicle with a drunk driver.
- If you have a friend who is about to drive drunk, take away their keys and help them get home safely.
- Always have a plan before you head out for the evening.
- If you wait until after you’ve been drinking to figure out how to get from one place to the next, you’re already too impaired to make the right choices.
Remember, you shouldn’t worry about offending someone; you might be saving their life.
There are plenty of options to help impaired drivers get home safely, such as designating a sober driver or calling a taxi or rideshare. If available, you can use your community’s sober ride program. Finally, if you see a drunk driver on the road, do not hesitate to call 911.
Always remember: Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving. For more information, visit www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drunk-driving.