If you ever ventured out on Halloween to do some trick-or-treating when you were a child, you probably remember how exciting it can be. It’s all about running from house to house and marveling (or being bitterly disappointed!) at the treats you’re raking in. As drivers, we should remember how distracted the little ghouls and goblins can be and drive with extra caution.
Halloween is notoriously one of the most dangers nights of the year for pedestrians, especially children. A government analysis determined that between 1990 and 2010 an average of 5.5 deaths of pedestrians under the age 18 occurred on Halloween every year. The the average on other days is 2.6.
When you get behind the wheel on Halloween, make a point to be extra-careful. Here are some tips for keeping young pedestrians safer.
- Slow down – Seems logical to slow down, but what is slow for one person can be different from another. In residential areas where the speed limit is already low, go even lower, at least 5 mph below the official speed limit. This will give you time to stop when a little ghost or X-Men character darts out into the street unexpectedly.
- Keep an eye out for kids – Pedestrians are harder to see at night. Even when children stick to the sidewalks, and while many parents now take precautions with their child’s costumes and may even give their kids flashlights to carry, trick-or-treaters can still blend into the background. Watch for kids wherever they may walk, including sidewalks, curbs, medians and even along the side of the road.
- Forget about the usual right-of-way rules – It may be that you have the right of way, but don’t take it for granted that children will know or care. That means even if there’s no official stop sign or stop light on the corner, slow or even stop until you’re sure kids aren’t going to step out in front of you. Keep it slow mid-block, too, because those sidewalk rules might be out the window.
- Be extra cautious pulling out of driveways and blind areas – Sometimes when you have to drive out of an alley or underground parking lot you can’t see whether pedestrians are ready to step out in front of you. Drive at a crawl and wait until you’re absolutely certain it’s safe for you to proceed. Backing out of a driveway can also be worrisome, so be vigilant.
- Turn on your headlights, even if it’s not dark yet – Give pedestrians the opportunity to see you more easily by keeping your headlights on. If the sun hasn’t yet gone completely down, lights can still help make you more visible. If you need to drop your kids off or pick them up, pull to the curb and turn on your hazard lights so other motorists can see you.
While you’re driving on Halloween, take extra care. Be aware of kids and their parents who are out and about, and be alert for moments when they could come out of nowhere. By taking precautions, you can ensure everyone’s night is more about treats than tricks and excited children can be safe.