More than any other time of year, pedestrians abound on Halloween, on the sidewalks and sometimes on the street. Avoiding a collision with the candy-hungry ghosts and goblins requires extra vigilance and possibly avoiding the roads altogether, especially between the hours of 5 and 9 pm, when foot traffic is heaviest.
There are 14% more fatal car crashes and twice as many child pedestrians hit by cars on Halloween than any other time of the year, so drive as cautiously as possible, knowing that small children are often not visible from behind the wheel, especially if you avert your eyes for just a minute. Whether the phone is handheld or hands-free, you are four times more likely to hit a pedestrian if you are using your phone so put the phone away and stay alert.
Here is a list of 20 other dangers to keep in mind when driving on Halloween:
- Drive safely by obeying all traffic laws. Avoid aggressive driving, especially in residential areas, because some children may be walking on the road.
- Drive slowly, and below the speed limit, while being vigilant of trick or treaters who may run out into the street, especially small children who are not easy to see in the dark.
- Slow down around bushes and parked cars because children may run out in front of you.
- Avoid texts and calls more than ever because of the uncertain foot traffic of trick or treaters. You’ll need to react quickly if a small child runs out into the street. Keep your eyes on the road.
- Pay particular attention at crosswalks and intersections, where children may be crossing the street.
- Be careful when passing stopped cars because children may dart out of that car onto the road.
- Drive defensively due to the high number of drunk drivers on the road. Don’t worry about the people behind you; Halloween is one day when driving below the speed limit is okay.
- When it gets dark out, be aware that children in dark costumes may be difficult to see.
- Make sure you’re wearing your prescription distance glasses, if you have them, to make sure you can see children who are at a distance.
- Avoid drinking alcohol because The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 41 percent of casualties were hit by a drunk driver on Halloween night.
- If you’re set on drinking Halloween night, hire an Uber or find a designated driver before you go out.
- Be watchful of pedestrians crossing in the middle of the street instead of designated crossing zones.
- More than ever, make sure to use your turn signals and hazards to communicate with other drivers on the road.
- According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, driving at night is three times more dangerous than driving during the day so drive slowly.
- If you’re driving children for trick or treating, make sure they buckle up after each stop.
- Let the children in the car out in safe areas, like a curb. Use your hazards to let drivers behind you know that there is a child pedestrian getting out of the car.
- If at any point you need to back up your car, have someone get out and check behind you, even in your own driveway. A small child may be lurking there and is not visible in your mirrors.
- Turn on your headlights before it gets dark, so your car is most visible. You can even make your car more visible by putting a battery-powered jack-o-lantern on your dash.
- Keep the radio off and roll down windows to hear signs of pedestrians that are not visible.
- If you’re dressed in a costume, make sure that it does not impair your vision or interfere with your driving.
It’s also important to have adequate car insurance in case something does go wrong. There are, after all, more fatal crashes on Halloween than any other time of year. Having adequate car insurance to fend off the claims monster doesn’t have to be expensive, either.
Just compare prices with SmartFinancial to see who can offer you the lowest rates available in your area.
Emilie St. John is a freelance journalist who appears weekly in the Los Angeles Wave newspaper and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.