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State Patrol emphasizing Halloween safety

By Jason A. Smith

jsmith@henryherald.com

State law enforcement officials are urging drivers to be on the lookout for children trick-or-treating on the roads tonight, and reminding them to use caution when traveling, to and from, Halloween parties.

The Georgia State Patrol issued a written statement Wednesday, imploring motorists to "pay extra attention" to safety when they get behind the wheel tonight.

According to patrol spokesman, Gordy Wright, this year's Halloween activities could be particularly dangerous for kids collecting candy from neighbors.

"Halloween falling on a Friday increases the danger on the roads, because more adults have parties, in addition to their children going trick-or-treating," he said. "That often leads to a larger number of impaired drivers on the road."

Wright said to counter the actions of such drivers, the agency's post commanders typically assign troopers to later shifts on Fridays.

In its written statement, the State Patrol cited statistics from 2006, indicating that alcohol-impaired motorists were involved in 44 percent of all highway fatalities nationwide between 6 p.m., on Halloween and 5:59 a.m., Nov. 1.

According to Col. Bill Hitchens, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, drivers should keep these numbers in mind, and should watch out for pedestrians tonight.

"Slow down, watch for children and don't drink and drive," he said in the statement. "Children are excited about Halloween, and may not be paying as much attention to their surroundings as they should."

The agency is also reminding parents to make sure their children's attire increases their visibility when they go trick-or-treating.

"Add reflective tape to Halloween costumes and make sure the costumes do not impede a child's ability to walk, see or hear," added Hitchens. "With a later sunset again this year, and children on the streets, drivers should be mindful of the dangers posed by the setting sun."