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Fend off Halloween spooks with these safety tips


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Photo by Jim Davis. A family of bumblebees, Libby Skolnik and daughters Eleanor, 3, and Madeline, 15 months, participate Friday in the annual Greenbelt Costume Parade at the Roosevelt Center in Old Town Greenbelt.

Photo by Jim Davis. A family of bumblebees, Libby Skolnik and daughters Eleanor, 3, and Madeline, 15 months, participate Friday in the annual Greenbelt Costume Parade at the Roosevelt Center in Old Town Greenbelt.

Published on: Wednesday, October 31, 2012

By Lucy Westcott

Whether celebrating at a spooky soiree or chaperoning costumed trick-or-treaters on All Hallows' Eve, officials urge Prince George's residents to take proper precautions to minimize Halloween scares. 

Free cab rides will be available for Prince George’s County revelers who have had a frightening amount to drink this Halloween, in a bid to cut down on holiday drunk driving. The Washington Regional Alcohol Program’s SoberRide offers free cab rides from 10 p.m. Wednesday to 4 a.m. Thursday to those in the Washington-area who would otherwise drive intoxicated.

“More than 40 percent of all Halloween traffic deaths in the U.S. are caused by drunk driving,” according to WRAP.

The aim of the nonprofit’s program is to “keep local roads safe from impaired drivers during this traditionally high-risk, holiday period,” according to a WRAP press release. Local cab companies will provide the service.

Drinkers under 21 “won’t be able to use the service,” Kurt Gregory Erickson, President of WRAP, said in an interview.

 “We are fully aware that underage drinking happens,” Erickson said, adding that WRAP is “not naïve.”

“The other 90 percent of the year is spent preventing drunk drivers and underage driving by educating in high schools,” Erickson said.

“We and our sponsors want this program to follow the letter of the law,” Erickson added.

Since 1993, the SoberRide program has given 55,694 potential drunk-drivers a free cab ride home.

Police departments in Prince George’s County have also been sharing tips for safe trick-or-treating this Halloween.

Sgt. Chris Purvis of the Hyattsville Police Department said Hyattsville Police increase patrols every Halloween.

“We bring people in early and have the midnight shift start early,” Purvis said.

While there has not historically been an increase in arrests over Halloween, Purvis said, "It’s absolutely important to have an increased police presence."

Officers are assigned to different segments of Hyattsville and will be parked with their windows down. 

“The goal is to ensure kids’ safety,” Purvis said.

“Stay together in a group, bring a flashlight or a light that blinks, and make sure somebody in the group is wearing white or some kind of reflective clothing,” Purvis said, on the safest way to trick or treat.

Kelly Lawson, public information officer for the Greenbelt Police Department, also said, “Parents should make sure their children wear reflective materials on their costumes and have masks that don’t impair their vision.”

“We would always encourage citizens to use other available options besides driving under the influence,” added Lawson.

Lt. William Alexander of the Prince George’s County Police said, historically, his department employs two additional resources over Halloween: Community Oriented Police Officers and Specially Assigned Teams.

Alexander does not know whether the special teams will be used this Halloween, but officers will make sure “no one gets their candy stolen.”

Residents age 21 and older can call 1-800-200-TAXI toll-free to claim a free SoberRide cab ride of up to a $30 value. The rider is responsible for paying the cost over $30.

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