Advice for drivers and trick-or-treaters.
As ghosts, witches, and superheroes wander the roads on Halloween looking for candy and treats, drivers should take extra care to ensure that the holiday doesn’t become truly horrifying.
The scary reality is that Halloween is one of the deadliest days of the year for pedestrians, especially children, statistics show. Pedestrian deaths are on the rise in general, reaching 5,987 in 2016, the highest number since 1990, according the Department of Transportation.
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that pedestrian deaths soared by 46 percent from 2009 to 2016, with an increasing share of the deaths away from intersections and on busy and dark city and suburban roads.
"Halloween night is like a 'perfect storm' of risk because it involves darkness, a huge increase in pedestrian traffic, especially children, and all sorts of distractions," says Jennifer Stockburger, director of operations at CR's Auto Test Center. "Everyone needs to be ultracareful to not turn such a fun evening into tragedy."
Halloween brings out children of all ages walking on, alongside, and crossing streets. It’s important for kids to be aware of their surroundings so they can stay safe.
And there are steps that parents and drivers can take to reduce the risks.
Tips for Trick-or-Treaters
The tips below are from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation.
- Parents should accompany children younger than 12 years old.
- Children should walk—not run—from house to house.
- Children should stay on sidewalks instead of walking between cars or on lawns, where there could be tripping hazards.
- Parents should remind children to look for cars when crossing driveways.
- Pedestrians shouldn't assume they have the right of way, because motorists may not see them.
- Go trick-or-treating before it is truly dark, especially with young children.
- Parents and children should consider choosing costumes that are lighter in color, which make it easier for drivers to see them. Adding reflective material to the front and back makes a costume easier to pick out; it can even be built into the design.
- Avoid costumes that make it more difficult for a child to see, especially ones that include masks. If a mask is necessary, kids may want to remove it when moving between houses for greatest visibility.
- Give children a flashlight to walk with in the dark so they can be more easily seen by drivers. Glow sticks can help too.
Tips for Drivers
Drivers can find Halloween to be especially difficult, because children often behave unpredictably and can be difficult to see after dark. These tips are from NHTSA and the U.S. Department of Transportation.
- Drivers need to understand that Halloween is especially dangerous.
- Drive slowly in and around neighborhoods and on residential streets.
- Don't drink and drive. Drunken-driving incidents increase on Halloween. (NHTSA reports that 44 percent of all people killed in motor vehicle crashes on Halloween night from 2012 to 2016 were in crashes involving drunken driving.)
- Watch for children who may dart out into the street, and always yield to pedestrians. If you see one child, there are likely more ready to cross.
- If you're driving children around for trick-or-treating, make sure they're buckled up appropriately in a child safety seat or with a seat belt. Make sure they buckle up each and every time they enter the car, and check to make sure they're secure before you drive to the next stop.
- Pull over at safe locations to let children exit at the curb and away from traffic. Use your hazard lights to alert other drivers of your car.
- Try to park in a spot where you won’t need to back up. But if you must, have an adult outside to make sure no children are in the way of your vehicle when you do.
- Don't use a cell phone or other mobile device while driving. Pull over safely to check voice messages or texts if necessary.
By being cautious and mindful of safety this Halloween, you can make sure the holiday is a treat for all.