Halloween is approaching, and in neighborhoods across the country that means one thing: children in costume going from house to house in search of treats. But unfortunately, trick-or-treating comes with a risk.
The American Medical Association studied 42 years of data and determined the risk of a pedestrian fatality is 42 percent higher on meaning that children are more likely to be seriously injured on Halloween than any other night of the year. If you drive this Halloween, watch for trick-or-treaters, and follow these tips to avoid an accident and celebrate safely.
Reduce your speed to at least five miles per hour below the posted speed limit when driving on Halloween, especially in residential areas. Obey all traffic signs and signals. Increase your following distance. Stay several car lengths away from the vehicle ahead of you. This extra space gives you more time to stop and react if a child suddenly darts out into the road.
Scan Ahead for Children
Scanning the road ahead to identify hazards is a fundamental principle of defensive driving. It is particularly useful on a night like Halloween when more people are walking around in residential areas.
Excited children may not be paying attention to traffic and could cross the street without looking. It is important to be vigilant and anticipate hazards, so you are able to slow down, stop, and avoid a serious accident.
Be as Visible as Possible
Replace and repair burned out or defective bulbs to improve visibility for you as the driver, and others sharing the road. If you drive on Halloween, turn your headlights on during the day and night to be as visible as possible for pedestrians.
Driving on Halloween involves more hazards than usual. If a driver brakes suddenly to avoid hitting a pedestrian, their passengers can experience quite a jolt. The easiest and most effective way to prevent occupant injuries is to make sure everyone wears their seatbelts.
More than half of passenger vehicle occupants who were killed in vehicle accidents in 2020 were not wearing seatbelts. In a single year in this country, seatbelts saved nearly 15,000 lives according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
For a seatbelt to work effectively, it must be worn as intended. Using the lap belt without the shoulder strap, for example, can cause serious injuries in a high-impact collision. It does not matter how far you are driving, or how slow, proper seatbelt use is shown to reduce the chance of serious and fatal injuries in a crash.
Put the Phone Away
A distraction is any activity that diverts from the act of driving. While cell phones are a common distraction, they are just one of many that take the driver’s eyes off the road and hands off the wheel. Distracted driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving. In 2020 alone, more than 3,100 lives were lost in distracted-driving accidents. On a day like Halloween where pedestrian traffic is increased, drivers cannot afford to be inattentive even for a few seconds.
If you bend over to pick up something that dropped on the floor of your car or turn your head to talk to a passenger in the back seat, you cannot see the road ahead of you. Imagine a child stepping into the street several feet ahead of you. If you are paying attention, you can stop your car in time. But if you are looking down at your phone and typing out a text, the result can be a deadly accident.
Do Not Drink and Drive
For many adults, Halloween means costume parties with food and cocktails. It is understood that driving intoxicated is not only illegal—it is unsafe.
The statistics on Halloween drunk-driving accidents are unsettling to say the least:
- 38 percent of fatal vehicle crashes that occurred on Halloween night involved a driver or motorcyclist with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher.
- 44 percent of fatal vehicle crashes nationwide occurring over Halloween weekend involved a driver or motorcyclist with a BAC of 0.08 or higher.
- Nearly one-fourth of fatal pedestrian accidents on Halloween involved a drunk driver.
There is a misconception that as long as you are under the legal blood-alcohol content in your state, it is okay to drive after drinking alcohol. Yet even a single alcoholic beverage can affect coordination, decision-making, reaction time, and other functions that are critical for safe operation of a motor vehicle.
If cocktails are part of your Halloween fun, plan ahead for a safe and sober ride home. Stay home to celebrate or have a designated sober driver or rideshare service take you home. Or—opt for spooky “mocktails” that are just festive but without alcohol.
What Can Pedestrians Do to Be Safe This Halloween?
Cautious drivers can significantly reduce the risk of pedestrian-vehicle accidents on Halloween and every day of the year. It is also important for trick-or-treaters and other pedestrians to be mindful of when and wear they walk to have a safe and enjoyable holiday.
Wear Bright Costumes
If possible, go trick-or-treating before sunset. That can be difficult this time of year as it is getting darker earlier in the day. If you plan to walk around at night, choose light, bright costumes and clothing. You can also carry a flashlight or wear neon glow-sticks to be more visible to drivers and to light your way on a dark Halloween night.
Cross in Designated Areas
The reality is that you cannot assume every driver is alert, attentive, and sober. Stay on the sidewalk and avoid crossing in the middle of the street or between parked cars when it is time to cross. Wait for pedestrian signals and cross at crosswalks, intersections, and corners.
Remind children to stay off their devices while walking. Making eye contact with drivers in stopped vehicles helps to ensure they see you before you cross the street.
Stay in Groups
Regardless of age, children should trick-or-treat in groups. The buddy system is a good way to keep track of each other, and larger groups are easier for drivers to see. Younger children should always walk with an adult.
Halloween motor vehicle accidents and injuries are absolutely preventable. Remember to share the road with trick-or-treaters, take your time, and drive sober and attentive. In the event of an accident, dial 911 and wait for help to arrive. Never move someone who has pain or obvious injuries.
Gather contact information from everyone involved, including individuals who witnessed the accident. Document the scene with photos and video and file a police report with the responding officer. If you are involved in any type of accident that involves injuries or property damage, a consultation with a car accident lawyer should be your next step.
If another party’s negligence caused the crash, you may be able to collect compensation for medical bills, auto repairs, and other losses related to the accident. In some cases, noneconomic damages like pain, suffering, and emotional trauma are compensable as well. During an initial case review, your attorney assesses your situation, explains your rights, and recommends the best legal course of action to move forward to a positive outcome.
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Our experienced Virginia Beach car accident lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC, provide superior legal guidance for clients who have been injured in auto accidents across the state. We explain your rights, hold negligent parties accountable, and seek maximum compensation for you. Call 757-LAW-0000 or contact the firm online to schedule a free consultation today. From our office in Virginia Beach, we serve the communities of Chesapeake, Norfolk, Newport News, Suffolk, Hampton, and Eastern Shore, Virginia. We also represent clients nationwide through our network of associated attorneys.