It might come as no surprise that Halloween is one of the deadliest nights of the year (every year), given that the evening and its trailing hours are given to pranks, tricks, disguises, the macabre, and at least a symbolic worship of evil and general mayhem. But it might come as somewhat of a surprise that Halloween isn't the most deadly because of people getting murdered on that particular night. Nor is it due to all that poisoned candy or those razor-bladed apples, which are generally popularized urban legends. No, it is the "deadliest night of the year," according to AAA, because it is the one night when pedestrians are more likely to be hit and killed by a car.
WFSB in Hartford, Conn., and other local news outlets throughout the nation reported Oct. 29 that motorist organization AAA issued a press release cautioning both drivers and trick-or-treaters to be extra cautious and vigilant on Halloween due to the high number of crashes each year involving vehicles and pedestrians. In fact, as noted, Halloween night is the deadliest night of the calendar year for pedestrians. AAA says that the most dangerous time is between 4 p.m. in the evening to midnight. And as a warning to those planning on going to parties or bars and drinking, 38 percent cars that crash into pedestrians and result in a death are the result of someone driving with a higher than .08 Blood Alcohol Content level (the legal limit that determines intoxication in most states).
As many of the accidents involving pedestrians are children being hit by cars, AAA listed several tips that could reduce not only the number of fatalities on Halloween but also the number of total accidents. They include no drinking and driving (with celebrants using designated drivers or taxis to get around), keeping headlights on (particularly beginning at dusk), and broadening one's range of vision (to include yards and lots, not just sidewalks).
AAA also recommends that drivers slow down, because just reducing one's speed from 35 mph to 25 mph is half as likely to kill someone being struck by a vehicle, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. And as should be obvious, stay alert for children, especially in residential neighborhoods and when passing parked vehicles (because excited kids will sometimes run from between parked cars). Also be alert for movement, as some costumed children might be wearing dark or non-reflective clothing and might be somewhat difficult to see.
The auto organization also had a few Halloween safety tips for parents of kids trick-or-treating. AAA recommends parents accompany their children up until the age of 12. They also note that planning a trick-or-treat route and going over safety tips (like not running into the street or between parked cars) before the outing is optimal. Dress in easily discernible costumes and use reflective material whenever possible. Avoid leggings or shoes that might trip a person. Also avoid masks or facewear that could obstruct vision. Carry a flashlight if possible.
And for parents who will drive their kids to trick-or-treat, make sure the kids buckle up and always exit (and re-enter) the car on the passenger side.
Halloween is a night of tradition, fun, and candy-collecting. It shouldn't also be a night of pain and tragedy. Remembering that taking extra precautions while driving and while trick-or-treating (or overseeing kids that are trick-or-treating) can save many from injury and even death. A little extra vigilance and caution and perhaps next year AAA won't be able to call Halloween the "deadliest night of the year for pedestrians."