Halloween night is supposed to be a fun time for kids dressing up as their favorite superhero and ringing as many door bells as possible. Although it’s a time for pumpkin carving, wearing costumes, and shouting “trick or treat” at every opportunity under the expectation of candy rewards, Halloween can also have a dark side, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The NHTSA points out that, nationwide, Halloween has earned the distinction of being a particularly deadly night as a result of the elevated amount of drunk drivers on the roads – not to mention the increase in pedestrians during the evening hours. As a driver, guarding against children dashing from house to house and across streets in the dark can be especially challenging.
Mischief isn’t the only thing in the air. Danger lurks as well. In 2011, 38 percent of fatalities reported on Halloween night resulted from a crash that involved a driver or a motorcyclist with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher and, of those fatalities, 11 percent involved a pedestrian. Furthermore, over a five year span – from 2007 to 2011 – statistics show that 23 percent of pedestrian fatalities on Halloween night involved a drunk driver.
Whether you choose to throw a party or attend one, or plan on taking the kids out for an evening of family trick-or-treating, the following safety tips can help ensure you have a safer Halloween night.
• Use extra caution while behind the wheel. In other words, expect the unexpected.
• Drive slowly and be alert in residential areas. That includes keeping your headlights on.
• Be careful while entering and exiting driveways and alleys. Some kids may be wearing dark costumes that are difficult to see at night.
• Don’t drive distracted so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings. That means – no cell phone use or texting behind the wheel.
• Drive sober or make plans for a designated driver or a car service (like Uber or Lyft) to take you home if you intend to celebrate Halloween with alcohol. Hurting someone or getting pulled over for a DUI will take the fun out of your evening in a hurry and land you in jail.
• Keep an eye out for drunk drivers. If you see someone drive erratically, contact local law enforcement.
• Be a friend and help someone you know that may be impaired make safe travel arrangements to wherever they’re going.
• Supervise children under the age of 12 who will be out at night.
• Children should trick-or-treat in groups and try to stay in familiar neighborhoods and well-lit surroundings. Don’t let them stray too far into the unknown.
• Use designated crosswalks to cross the street while walking, whenever possible. Avoid going between parked cars with your children as drivers may not see you in time to stop. Aside from the obvious risk, it can also teach them bad and dangerous habits.
• Have your children wear comfortable costumes so they won’t trip or fall as they move from house to house or cross the street.
• Choose face paint instead of masks whenever possible. Masks obstruct your child’s vision.
• Attach reflective tape to costumes and have your children hold Halloween safety products, such as glow sticks to make them more visible to drivers in the dark.
By using a little caution this Halloween, everyone can enjoy a safe and spooky night.