Nearly 1 in 3 adults plans to attend a Halloween party tonight, and that gives some folks the shivers.
During the last three years, 15 people were killed and 47 seriously injured on the night of Oct. 31 on Georgia roads and highways, according to the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. Most fatal crashes were the result of drunk driving.
"These numbers are frightening," said the agency’s director, Bob Dallas.
Dallas said some days on the calender have in recent years seen spikes in drunk driving. Halloween, which once was mostly about trick-or-treating and other
family-oriented pastimes, is one of them.
"Cinco de Mayo, St. Patrick’s Day and now Halloween have morphed into truly terrifying nights of deadly drinking and driving on the Georgia social calender," Dallas said. "It should be a time for scary costumes, trick-or-treating with the kids and good family fun."
But with the growth in more adult-oriented Halloween happenings, "we’re not talking kids’ stuff anymore," Dallas said. "And neither are the cops."
Indeed, expect to see an increased law enforcement presence on the roads tonight — increased even over the usual Halloween boost in patrols.
"With Halloween being on a Saturday evening, we are increasing our patrols more than normal," said Hall County Sheriff’s Col. Jeff Strickland. "Normally on a weekday (Halloween), when people have to be at work the next day, things are much less active and it’s fairly uneventful. This year, we do anticipate there will be a number of parties that involve alcohol."
The sheriff’s traffic enforcement unit will be out looking for drivers under the influence, while the crime suppression unit will focus on safety in neighborhoods, Strickland said.
The Gainesville police traffic enforcement and specialized service units will be on the lookout for trouble as well, said Lt. Carol Martin.
AAA Auto Club South this week cited a study by the National Retail Federation that shows the popularity of Halloween parties for adults has been steadily growing in the past decade.This year, about 30 percent of adults will be celebrating All Hallow’s Eve with others, and an estimated 62 percent of those ages 18-24 will attend or host a party, according to the study.
As always, people out on the roads tonight are asked to slow down, pay careful attention and be on the lookout for costumed tykes making the trick-or-treating rounds. Motorists should watch for children darting across streets and should not pass cars stopped in the road, as they could be dropping off children. On this night especially, drivers are strongly discouraged from texting or talking on cell phones while driving.
Those intent on some late-night Halloween revelry need to plan a safe way home before the festivities begin, either by designating a sober driver, planning to stay overnight or calling a cab later.
"We’re urging people to make safety a priority and please do not drink and drive," Strickland said.