Traffic May Be the Scariest Thing About Halloween
Halloween is meant to be scary– haunted houses, ghosts and goblins, creepy decorations, ghost stories and more give the night an eerie feel. But, most of us realize that the traditional “dangers” of Halloween aren’t real.
What you may not know is that drivers and pedestrians – – particularly trick-or-treaters — do face a real danger on Halloween.
Increased Traffic Risks on Halloween
Pedestrian Fatalities Are More Likely on Halloween
In 2019, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a letter about pedestrian fatalities associated with the Halloween holiday. While researchers dismissed the idea that trick-or-treating should be eliminated as too dangerous, they also noted that the risk of pedestrian fatality was 43% higher than on comparable evenings in the same season. Unsurprisingly, the greatest increased risk was to young children. Pedestrians between the ages of four and eight were at a 10 times greater pedestrian fatality risk on Halloween. Their conclusions were based on pedestrian fatality data that stretched across more than four decades.
The most recent edition of an annual report released by AutoInsurance.org affirmed the increased risk of pedestrian fatalities. Based on data across the past 15 years, this report concludes that pedestrians have a 50% higher chance of fatality on Halloween than on the average day.
Halloween Traffic Crashes
The AutoInsurance.org report looked beyond the increased risk to pedestrians at other traffic crashes. On an annual basis, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) says about 3% of people killed in traffic in the United States are children. However, the report referenced above shows that on Halloween, 18% of traffic fatalities are children.
From 1995 to 2019, every Halloween had at least 27% more fatal traffic crashes than the average day.
Why is Halloween More Dangerous?
One reason for the increased risk to pedestrians – – especially children – – on Halloween night is fairly obvious. There generally are not many young children out walking around after dark. On Halloween, trick-or-treating brings out large numbers of children. Not only are they out in larger numbers, but they are often excited about Halloween, running from house to house, getting scared and scaring one another, and chasing friends. In other words, they aren’t necessarily paying the same amount of attention that they might when they were, say, crossing the street walking home from school.
Children are also costumed, which may mean their vision is partially obstructed, their movements are more awkward than normal, and their visibility may be low.
But, another reason Halloween night is more dangerous falls squarely on drivers. While children tend to celebrate Halloween by trick-or-treating, many adults celebrate it with parties involving alcohol. That means that there may be a larger number of intoxicated drivers on the road at the same time that there are unusual numbers of young children walking the streets.
Halloween Traffic Safety
Halloween traffic safety is actually quite a bit like traffic safety on any other night. While it’s important to be more cautious of the risks, and parents, children and drivers have to adapt for the fact that kids are out walking around at night, the general precautions stay the same.
Halloween Safety Tips for Drivers
In addition to the usual safety measures, such as observing all traffic signals and respecting the speed limit, drivers can help reduce Halloween-related traffic risks through these simple measures:
- Do not drink and drive. Obviously, this is critical any time you are going to get behind the wheel. However, since drinking and driving is generally elevated on holidays, it bears a special mention. Remember that even the slightest slowing of a driver’s reaction time could prove fatal to pedestrians.
- Be extra vigilant. Be aware that foot traffic will be heavier than usual, and that many of the pedestrians will be children who may be unaccustomed to walking around outside at night or distracted by Halloween festivities.
- Slow down in residential neighborhoods to ensure that you have time to react if a child steps into the street from an unexpected place, such as between two parked cars.
Halloween Safety Tips for Parents and Children
Halloween safety for kids starts with parents making good decisions about when children are ready to be out unattended, and ensuring that they supervise younger children closely while they’re out trick-or-treating. Parents and children should also:
- Make sure masks fit well or avoid them entirely to ensure that kids have a clear field of vision.
- Make sure your kids are visible while they’re out and about on Halloween -– if costumes are dark consider reflective tape or other night visibility safety gear.
- Remember that basic traffic safety rules still apply. Actions like cutting across the middle of the street to catch up with a friend or hit a neighbor’s house are no safer around Halloween than at any other time. In fact, with the increased activity and the increased level of drivers who may have been drinking, it’s likely more dangerous.
Help for Victims of Traffic Accident Injuries
If you or your child has been injured in a traffic accident, whether on Halloween or any other day, your next step should be to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer. Attorney Kevin P. Broderick has devoted his career to helping people who have been injured in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. He has the knowledge and experience to help you build the strongest possible case for your circumstances.
To learn more, schedule a free consultation right now. Just call 978-459-3085 or fill out the contact form on this site.
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