Booz­ers can be losers on Hal­loween

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL - CHAR­LIE SEWELL Char­lie Sewell is the re­tired Pow­der Springs po­lice chief and lives in Chero­kee County.

Hal­loween is on a Wed­nes­day this year, and hordes of lit­tle ghosts and gob­lins will be dart­ing into the streets. Sor­row, pain, guilt, de­spair and con­tin­u­ous dark­ness could be just around the cor­ner.

Even if a child is at fault, a feel­ing of de­pres­sion, anger, and a deep sad­ness fol­lows the killing of a child. Some com­mu­ni­ties will pro­claim that Hal­loween should be cel­e­brated on the week­end when traf­fic is lighter, but many par­ents won’t heed that sug­ges­tion.

Hal­loween isn’t just for ki­dlets any­more, be­cause adults seem to be com­man­deer­ing the hol­i­day. Jack-o’-lanterns, candy and witches are slowly be­ing out­flanked by adult cos­tumes, al­co­hol and par­ties. Even the trick-or-treat pranks seem to be geared to­ward the older gen­er­a­tion. Some or­ga­ni­za­tions state that drunk driv­ing fa­tal­i­ties on Hal­loween night are steadily on the rise.

It doesn’t take a rocket sci­en­tist to see all the adult Hal­loween cos­tumes at many re­tail stores. Many adults want to step out of real­ity, then presto-chango, be­come a char­ac­ter from an­other world.

In 1961, singer Barry Mann put the bomp in the bomp bah bomp, but these days some folks put the booze in the boo, boo, boos? Psy­chol­o­gy­to­ says, “Re­search has shown that av­er­age al­co­hol con­sump­tion over­all in­creases by about 30 per­cent on Hal­loween and rises even more among col­lege stu­dents who dressed up in cos­tumes.” Some adults get car­ried away and let their se­cond self push them into do­ing stupid things they or­di­nar­ily wouldn’t do.

ABC News re­ported last year, “The scari­est place on Hal­loween isn’t a ceme­tery or haunted house — it’s the emer­gency room. The ma­jor­ity of cases emer­gency room physi­cians see on Hal­loween are al­co­hol or drug in­tox­i­ca­tion and trauma.”

Hal­loween will be a spe­cial night for ap­prox­i­mately 40 mil­lion trick-or-treaters, but for nearly 150,000 peo­ple, their treat will be gory and grue­some. There is no guess­ing who will lose if a 4,000-pound car col­lides with a 60-pound child. This Hal­loween, about 145,000 pedes­tri­ans will need a doc­tor and ap­prox­i­mately 6,000 more will need an un­der­taker.

Creep up on these spook-taku­lar tips to re­duce the chance of killing a child this Hal­loween sea­son. Re­duce speed, es­pe­cially in res­i­den­tial neigh­bor­hoods, and keep a close watch be­tween 4 to 8 p.m. when most se­ri­ous ac­ci­dents hap­pen be­tween cars and chil­dren.

Be aware that a stopped car could be let­ting chil­dren out to trick-or-treat. Know that out of the blue, chil­dren will sud­denly ap­pear in the mid­dle of the street. As sure as Hal­loween falls on Oct. 31, chil­dren will be ex­cit­edly think­ing about get­ting more candy, and they will un­in­ten­tion­ally dash in front of a mov­ing car. They will be giddy, and they will move very un­pre­dictably. They can even dart away from an adult es­cort in­cred­i­bly fast. Fa­tal­i­ties of chil­dren usu­ally oc­cur at places other than in­ter­sec­tions.

Ac­cord­ing to the or­ga­ni­za­tion Safe Kids USA, “Chil­dren are more than twice as likely to be killed by a car while walk­ing on Hal­loween night than at any other time of the year.” There’s a startling num­ber of rea­sons that chil­dren are hurt on Hal­loween, but the ghoul­ish fact is that the fault gen­er­ally rests with the child.

Chil­dren of­ten wear masks that ham­per their abil­ity to see when they cross the street, so it be­comes pru­dent for driv­ers to be­ware. Chil­dren who wear dark cos­tumes and don’t carry a flash­light is an­other rea­son for driv­ers to slow down. Turn sig­nals are es­pe­cially im­por­tant on Hal­loween.

Hal­loween is sup­posed to start the three­day ob­ser­vance of All­hal­lowtide, the time in the litur­gi­cal year ded­i­cated to re­mem­ber­ing the dead. In­stead, it has be­come a three-day ob­ser­vance of Allmy­whims, the time in the year ded­i­cated to gorg­ing on booze. A driver’s choice is to ex­pe­ri­ence a child’s blood, bones, and brains, or skip the booze and avoid the hor­ri­ble blues.

Chil­dren have a re­duced pic­ture of their sur­round­ings be­cause of their lack of ex­pe­ri­ence or ma­tu­rity. Any driver should have great ap­pre­hen­sion and fear of Hal­loween traf­fic dan­gers. If the worst-case sce­nario oc­curs, the driver will ex­pe­ri­ence the big heart and pro­fes­sional de­meanor of a po­lice of­fi­cer and med­i­cal first re­spon­der. But in 6,000 cases, these driv­ers will meet the an­gel of death.

Driv­ers might not want to carve a pump­kin, but they can carve their fu­ture. Barry Mann put the ram in the rama lama ding dong, but the sher­iff will put the slam in the slama jail door. Drive amused, with­out the booze, or use the walk­ing shoes. Killing a child is not worth the buzz.

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