LINTHICUM, Md. — While kids trick-or-treat, adults may be adding a few drinks to their Halloween celebrations, and that’s why Maryland public safety officials are delivering messages aimed at kids as well as grown-ups to stay safe this weekend.
At a news conference in Linthicum, Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn said an average of 151 people were killed in crashes involving impaired drivers per year from 2012 to 2016. “With Halloween on a Tuesday, celebrations can become a five-day event,” he added.
Rahn pointed out that 111 pedestrians were killed and 3,318 were injured on Maryland roadways last year. And 530 of those were 15 or younger; according to state figures, that represents an increase over the past three years.
The state’s Mobile Breath Alcohol Testing truck will be deployed in Montgomery County starting Friday night. Having the mobile unit with its breath testing equipment available eliminates the need for state troopers to take a driver stopped on suspicion of drunken driving back to the state police barracks for the test. MDOT officials say the result is faster processing time and more accurate readings of alcohol levels.
Also at Friday’s event was Rich Leotta, the father of Officer Noah Leotta, the Montgomery County police officer who was struck and killed by a drunken driver while taking part in a drunken driving task force in December 2015. Leotta took out a watch to time his speech, noting that every two minutes someone is injured in a crash involving a drunken driver.
Maryland’s legislation known as “Noah’s Law” is now a year old. That law required interlock devices be installed for up to six months in the car of anyone who is convicted of drunken driving and registers. 08 or higher on a breath test. State transportation figures show since Noah’s Law was enacted a year ago, participation in the interlock program grew by 10 percent, and drivers were stopped from getting behind the wheel more than 2,000 times when their alcohol readings were recorded above the legal limit.
Vests for visibility
As a way to make sure that trick-or-treaters are visible to drivers as they go house to house for candy over the next few days, the state’s launched the Vests for Visibility campaign. Through Oct. 31, families can pick up bright orange vests for use as they trick or treat. The vests will be available at most MDOT State Highway Administration maintenance facilities each day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. They must be returned by Nov. 3.
SHA Administrator Gregory Slater said, “The program is one way we are stressing how critical it is for pedestrians to stay visible, and for drivers to look for pedestrians on Halloween night — and every evening.”
Kevin Quinn, administrator of the Maryland Transit Administration, said transit is an option for anyone celebrating Halloween with a few drinks. “With numerous transit options available to Marylanders,” he said, “there’s no excuse for someone to drive impaired and risk putting themselves, pedestrians, and other motorists at risk.”
Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn talks about driving sober during Halloween: