Halloween is right around the corner, and it’s a time for drivers to be extra cautious on roadways as more children and parents are on the streets – often when it is dark. And with Halloween on a Monday, drivers are asked to be aware throughout the weekend as many celebrations will take place early.
Last Halloween weekend, there were 1,454 crashes on Virginia roadways, resulting in 10 fatalities and 652 injuries; two of the deaths occurred in alcohol-related crashes, according to a news release from the Virginia Department of Transportation.
“We have a shared responsibility to be extra cautious whether a motorist or pedestrian,” said acting DMV commissioner Linda Ford. “Before heading out, put safety front of mind to help ensure a safe and happy holiday for everyone.”
Creative costumes, trick-or-treating and bags full of goodies become top Halloween priorities, but safety often becomes an afterthought, according to a news release from AAA.
Excited trick-or-treaters can forget about safety, so drivers, party-goers and parents must be even more alert, as the risk of kids being injured by moving vehicles increases.
According to Safe Kids Worldwide, children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than any other day of the year.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that Halloween is consistently one of the top three days of the year for pedestrian injuries and fatalities.
Heading into Halloween, pedestrian deaths in Virginia are up dramatically this year compared to 2021.
“With an increased risk of pedestrian crashes on Halloween night, AAA Mid-Atlantic urges parents to take the time to make trick-or-treaters and their costumes safer and more visible to drivers,” said Morgan Dean, manager of public and government affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “In addition, drivers must eliminate distractions, slow down and watch for children, as well as have a completely sober designated driver if drinking is part of a Halloween celebration.”
Halloween is a statistically dangerous night for drunk driving. Because of the parties, trick-or-treating, and other festivities, Halloween night can be especially dangerous on our nation’s roads.
According to NHTSA, between 2016 and 2020, there were 129 drunk-driving fatalities on Halloween night (6 p.m. Oct. 31 – 5:59 a.m. Nov. 1).
Adults between the ages of 21 and 34 had the highest percentage (68 percent) of fatalities in drunk-driving crashes on Halloween night in 2020. During that same night, 11 pedestrians were killed in drunk-driving crashes.
AAA Halloween safety tips
- Eliminate distractions while driving, focus on the road and trick-or-treaters.
- Slow down in residential neighborhoods and obey all traffic signs and signals, 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, taking extra care if you are backing up or turning.
- Turn your headlights on to make yourself more visible – even in the daylight.
- Make sure Halloween costumes are flame-retardant and light in color to improve visibility.
- Be bright at night – have trick-or-treaters use glow sticks or wear retro-reflective tape on costumes and on treat buckets.
- Ensure disguises don’t obstruct vision and avoid full facemasks.
- 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.
- 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.
- Watch for cars turning or backing up.
- Cross streets only at the corner, using traffic signals and crosswalks, 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. Never shine flashlights into the eyes of oncoming drivers.
- Arrange a safe ride home and/or designate a driver before partaking in any festivities.
- Always designate a sober driver.
- If you are drunk, take a taxi or ride share service, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation.
- Before leaving for a party, load ride share apps or put numbers of local cab companies or your designated driver(s) into your phone.
- Walking impaired can be as dangerous as drunk driving. Designate a sober friend to walk you home.
- If you see a drunk 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.