It’s almost Halloween, a day of fun, laughter, costumes, and even a little fright. Because of the increased foot traffic from Trick-or-Treaters on Halloween night, the potential for automobile related accidents involving young pedestrians increases nearly four times. Per the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), from 1990 to 2010, 115 pedestrians under the age of 18 were killed on October 31. Which comes to an average of 5.5 deaths each Halloween, compared to an average of 2.6 on other days.
There are several reasons for the increase in accidents on Halloween; excited children not watching where they walk, intoxication, distractions, unable to see dark costumes in dark areas and so on. Safety isn’t solely in the hands of the drivers on Halloween. It takes effort from drivers, parents and trick-or-treaters alike.
- Slow down and obey traffic signals and signs- This is especially important in residential areas. Drive at least five mph below the speed limit to allow yourself time to react to children that may dart into the street.
- Don’t pass stopped vehicles- You don’t know if anyone may end up crossing the road in front of you.
- Keep a vigilant eye out for children- In dark costumes, they’ll be harder to see at night. Kids can cross the street anywhere, and most young pedestrian deaths happen at spots other than intersections. Broaden your scanning by looking for children left and right into yards and front porches.
- Yield to pedestrians- Children might not stop before crossing the road, either because they don’t see your vehicle approaching or don’t know how to safely cross the street. They may cross the street mid-block or between parked cars.
- Move slowly and carefully when you enter and exit alleys and driveways.
- Make yourself more visible- keep your headlights on, even in the day time, to make it more obvious that you are coming.
- Avoid distractions– Keep your phone put away or off when driving.
- Use turn signals- Communication with other drivers and pedestrians is always important, but even more so on nights like Halloween. If you must pull over to pick up or drop off your kids, use your hazard lights.
- Go over traffic safety with kids– Remind them how to safely cross the street, by looking both ways and only crossing at corners and crosswalks.
- Keep children supervised– An adult or older, responsible youth can supervise children under the age of 12.
- Plan ahead– Plan a route for your trick-or-treaters to follow and stick to. Tell your children to travel only in familiar areas along your established routes. Establish a time to for children to get home.
- Keep it bright- Tell children to keep to well-lit areas as much as possible and to only stop at well-lit houses. Make sure they know to never enter a stranger’s home or garage. Also, give them flashlights and/or glow sticks or put reflective tape on their costumes to make them more visible to drivers.
- Follow directions and safety precautions set by your parents. They are trying to keep you safe.
- Stay bright at night- Keep retro-reflective tape on costumes and treat bags/buckets to improve visibility to motorists and others.
- Keep vision unobstructed- Costumes shouldn’t obstruct vision.
- Don’t trip- Watch the length of billowy costumes to avoid tripping. Also, make sure any props don’t cause you to trip and if you do, make sure they are flexible and blunt-tipped to avoid injury.
- Carry a flashlight- Make sure the batteries are fresh. Place it in a treat bucket face down to keep one hand free. Never shine the light into the eyes of drivers.
- Stay on the sidewalks and avoid walking in the streets as much as possible. If there aren’t any sidewalks, walk on the left side of the road facing traffic.
- Follow traffic safety guidelines- Look both ways and listen for traffic before you cross the street. Only cross the street at corners and cross walks, and never cross between parked vehicles or mid-block.
- If they aren’t with you, make sure your parents know where you are going and stay in a group.
We would like to wish everyone a safe and happy Halloween!