As excitement for Halloween builds, creative costumes and a bag full of goodies become top priorities, while safety can be a dangerous afterthought. Because excited trick-or-treaters often forget about safety, drivers, party-goers and parents must be even more alert, as the risk of being injured by moving vehicles increases greatly.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that Halloween is consistently one of the top three days for pedestrian injuries and fatalities, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that children are four times more likely to be struck by a motor vehicle on Halloween than any other day of the year.
“With an increased risk of pedestrian crashes on Halloween night, AAA urges parents to take the time to make trick-or-treaters and their costumes safer and more visible to motorists,” said Cheryl Parker, AAA spokeswoman. “In addition, motorists should slow down and watch for children, as well as have a designated driver if drinking is part of a Halloween celebration.”
Halloween is also a statistically dangerous night for impaired driving. Although Halloween falls on a Monday this year, many parties will be held the weekend before. Drivers must also take into consideration that some neighborhoods have scheduled trick-or-treating for that weekend as well. The combination of drivers under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs along with increased pedestrian traffic on Halloween can be a dangerous and potentially deadly mix.
An estimated 40 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 typically go trick-or-treating in the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. With that many children walking around, accidents increase.
One-third of Halloween crash fatalities involve a pedestrian.
Forty-three percent of all people killed in motor vehicle crashes on Halloween (6 p.m. Oct. 31 to 5:59 a.m. Nov. 1) from 2009 to 2013 were in crashes involving a drunk driver. (NHTSA)
On Halloween Night alone 119 people lost their lives (2009-2013).
Children out trick-or-treating and the parents who accompany them are also at risk as 19 percent of fatal pedestrian crashes on Halloween night (2009-2013) involved drunk drivers.
Safety tips for drivers
Slow down in residential neighborhoods and obey all traffic signs and signals. Drive at least 5 mph below the posted speed limit to give yourself extra time to react to children who may dart into the street.
Look for children crossing the street. They may not be paying attention to traffic and may cross the street mid-block or between parked cars.
Carefully enter and exit driveways and alleys.
Turn your headlights on to make yourself more visible – even in the daylight.
Broaden your scanning by looking for children left and right into yards and on front porches.
Safety tips for parents
Make sure Halloween costumes are flame-retardant and light in color to improve visibility.
Be bright at night – wear retro-reflective tape on costumes and on treat buckets.
Wear disguises that don’t obstruct vision, and avoid facemasks. Instead, use nontoxic face paint. Also, watch the length of billowy costumes to help avoid tripping.
Ensure any props are flexible and blunt-tipped to avoid injury from tripping or “horseplay.”
Ask an adult or older child to supervise children under age 12.
Instruct children to travel only in familiar areas and along established routes.
Teach children to stop only at well-lit houses and to never to enter a stranger’s home or garage.
Review trick-or-treating safety precautions, including pedestrian and traffic safety rules.
Safety tips for trick-or-treaters
Stay on sidewalks and avoid walking in streets if possible.
If there are no sidewalks, walk on the left side of the road, facing traffic.
Look both ways and listen for traffic before crossing the street.
Cross streets only at the corner, and never cross between parked vehicles or mid-block.
Trick-or-treat in a group if someone older cannot go with you.
Tell your parents where you are going.
Carry a flashlight containing fresh batteries, and place it face down in the treat bucket to free up one hand. Never shine flashlights into the eyes of oncoming drivers.
Safety tips for party goers
Arrange a safe ride home and/or designate a driver before partaking in any festivities.
Always designate a sober driver.
If you are impaired, take a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation.
Before leaving for a party, put numbers of local cab companies and your designated driver(s) into your phone.
Walking impaired can be as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Designate a sober friend to walk you home.
If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact local law enforcement.
If you know someone who is about to drive or ride impaired, take their keys and help them make safe travel arrangements to where they are going.
Submitted by AAA.