Slow down & stay alert
On October 31st, countless kids run from house to house in search of tasty treats dressed up as whoever, whatever or wherever their imagination takes them. We all know younger pedestrians are at greater risk of injury or death because of their smaller size and their auditory, visual and cognitive senses are less developed. This Halloween let’s work together to keep the streets safe for everyone.
It’s important to be extra cautious when driving on Halloween. There are more children are on the roads at dusk and after dark…and they are excited! This means the safety radar may not be as strong as it usually is despite the force available to galactically-garbed trick-or-treaters. Sadly, children are three times more likely to be fatally injured by a car on Halloween, and the risk of involvement in a fatal collision grows up to ten times for kids between the ages of 4 and 8.
Pedestrian road fatalities are consistent throughout the year, but some characteristics are particularly concerning at Halloween. This is the result of a variety of factors, including low visibility due to dusk, street-crossing safety being neglected, costumes limiting visibility, and an increase in impaired driving:
- 6 in 10 pedestrians killed in traffic crashes were trying to cross the road.
- 6 in 10 pedestrians were killed at night or in dim light conditions.
- 6% of fatally injured pedestrians were under age 16; of these, 20% ran out into the street.
Tips for pedestrians:
- Sidewalks. Use sidewalks and walk in well-lit areas.
- Crosswalks. Stick to crosswalks because this is where drivers expect to see pedestrians.
- Buddy system. Go trick-or-treating with a friend or in a group to increase visibility.
- Mask visibility. Make sure you can see well through a mask because some masks limit visibility, especially peripheral vision.
- Visibility. Include reflective bracelets or strips, glow sticks, or other light clothing to make you more visible to drivers.
- Make a plan. Have a safety plan in place if separated from young trick-or-treaters (meeting place, cell phone, when to call 911 & ensure they DO NOT enter a stranger’s home to use a phone).
Tips for drivers:
- Be alert on roads & take care on driveways. Many excited children are out at dusk & after dark. Be extra alert for them running along sidewalks, into the road or behind your vehicle when backing up.
- Slow down. Don’t exceed speed limits & be aware of your surroundings.
- Buckle up. Make sure trick-or-treaters buckle up each time they enter the car before driving to the next stop. No distance is too short to drive unsecured.
- Car seats. Some Halloween costumes have padding or hard surfaces & make it difficult for the car seat harness or vehicle seat belt to properly fit the child.
- Pull over. Choose a safe location for trick-or-treaters to exit vehicles at the curb and away from traffic.
- Plan. Plan for a safe ride home after a Halloween party. Prevent driving impaired by having a sober friend/family member drive or take a taxi, ride share or public transportation.
#MySafeRoadHome blog authors: Hannah Barrett, TIRF Researcher & Program Coordinator and Karen Bowman, Director, Drop It And Drive®(DIAD) program, work collaboratively as co-authors. Hannah is a criminologist and specializes in alcohol ignition interlock programs, wildlife-vehicle collisions, and impaired driving countermeasures. Karen is TIRF’s Director, Communications & Programs; she uses her writing and blogging background to help apply TIRF’s research to real-world driving, cycling and walking.
Source documents and resources:
Staples, J. A., Yip, C., & Redelmeier, D. A. (2019). Pedestrian fatalities associated with Halloween in the United States. JAMA pediatrics, 173(1), 101-103. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/article-abstract/2711459
Sharing the Road: Pedestrians & Vehicles, 2018, Traffic Injury Research Foundation https://tirf.ca/TIRFCAD18M
Action2Zero website, Traffic Injury Research Foundation https://action2zero.tirf.ca