We teach our kids to look both ways before crossing the street and, as adults, we know to cross with the signal at a crosswalk.
However, these safety precautions are often forgotten on Halloween night. Trick-or-treaters dart across dark streets and adults overindulge in alcohol and hit the road—by car or on foot. These lapses in judgement result in far too many pedestrian accidents and deaths each year.
This year, think ahead before going out—you could save someone’s life!
Why Halloween Night Is So Dangerous for Pedestrians
Halloween comes at the end of Daylight Savings Time. This means it’s pitch dark by the time most people head out to celebrate. Darkness makes the night much spookier and more fun, but it also increases the danger to pedestrians.
While Halloween was once a festive occasion for children to dress up and get candy, it's grown into one of the biggest adult party nights of the year. Unfortunately, this means more drunk drivers—and drunk walkers—on the road. The combination of a lot of people, darkness, and alcohol increase the risk of accidents.
In fact, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), pedestrian deaths double on Halloween night each year. In 2012, pedestrian fatalities accounted for 14 percent of all traffic fatalities, but on Halloween night, pedestrian deaths were 28 percent of all deaths.
While an average of 31 percent of all crash fatalities involve alcohol, on Halloween night, nearly half of all traffic deaths involve alcohol. These statistics may not be surprising, but they should be a wake-up call to everyone out on All Hallow's Eve.
We offer these safety tips for both trick-or-treaters and drivers to do our part to prevent pedestrian accidents.
What Pedestrians Should Do on Halloween To Prevent An Accident
While trick-or-treating or traveling to or from that costume party you’ve been looking forward to all year, take the following precautions:
- Go with your child. Some parents wonder when their children are old enough to go trick-or-treating without supervision. The answer is probably never. If your child is young enough to dress up and go door-to-door, he's young enough to be accompanied by an adult. You can hang back and give older children some freedom, but you should be there to make sure they cross roads safely and are visible to motorists.
- Walk on the sidewalk. Many neighborhoods are packed with people on Halloween night and it may be tempting to walk in the street to avoid the crowds. However, this is a good way to get hit by a car. Remember that rates of drunk driving are higher during these festivities, and an impaired driver isn't likely to see you in the road.
- Cross at traffic signals. Help your children plan a route for hitting all the houses in the neighborhood while only crossing the street at intersections. Darting back and forth across the road—even in a residential neighborhood—is dangerous.
- Make yourself visible. Whether it “ruins” a costume or not, trick-or-treaters should be made visible with reflectors, flashlights, glow sticks, or flashers. Allowing them to walk around in dark costumes may endanger their lives.
- Don’t drink and walk. Almost half of all adult pedestrians between the ages of 21 and 54 who died in 2012 were at or above the illegal blood alcohol content limit for drivers. This statistic doesn't take into account the increase in drinking on Halloween night. While you may think you're making a good choice to walk instead of drive, the safest choice is to take a taxi or ride with a sober friend.
What Drivers Should Do To Prevent A Halloween Accident
Smart parents won't rely on drivers to watch out for their kids. However, if you're planning to be driving on Halloween, you can help by doing the following:
- Avoid distractions, such as texting or engaging with passengers.
- Don't drink and drive, and report any impaired drivers you see to the police.
- Slow down when driving through neighborhoods where kids are trick-or-treating. Be prepared for people to dart into the street.
A Safe Halloween Is Better for Everyone
It's okay to enjoy the fun on October 31st, but just remember that taking a few extra precautions could save a life—including your own or your child’s—so think safety this Halloween!