Every year, children look forward to Halloween so they can dress up as their favorite movie character or superhero, turn pumpkins into creepy jack-o-lanterns and collect as much candy as their trick-or-treat bags will hold. Even adults get in on the fun by throwing elaborate costume parties and haunted hayrides. While it is very easy to get caught up in the quest for candy, it is important that children and adults alike to make safety a priority so that a night of tricks and treats does not have tragic consequences. Unfortunately, children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car on Halloween than any other time of the year. Many of these accidents are preventable by exercising caution, particularly when driving through residential areas where children are more likely to be trick-or-treating and running across the street.
Why Are There More Car Accidents on Halloween?
Unfortunately, there are unique factors that can increase the risk of a serious car accident on Halloween. Many of these hazards are preventable, particularly if you are aware of the hazards and the steps you can take to avoid them. The following are examples of some of the most common causes of car accident on Halloween:
- More pedestrians on the roads. Children who are out and about trick-or-treating often dart out into the street without checking to see if a car is coming. For smaller children, trick-or-treating happens at dusk when the sun is starting to set, which can make it more difficult for motorists to see pedestrians, particularly if they are wearing a dark costume.
- Increase in drunk drivers. Children are not the only ones who enjoy getting dressed up and celebrating Halloween. However, whereas children collect as much candy as they can, adults tend to overdo it with the amount of alcohol that they consume. Too often, partygoers will get behind the wheel after a Halloween party, which can have devastating consequences if the motorist hits another vehicle or a pedestrian.
- Inexperienced teen drivers on the roads. Even if a teen driver has not been drinking, they are not experienced drivers. As a result, they may be less equipped to react quickly to an unexpected hazard, like a drunk driver or a child running across the street without looking.
- More distracted drivers. There are a wide range of spooky sights and sounds that can distract drivers on Halloween. From the elaborate decorations that people put out on their lawns to the adorable and creative costumes that trick-or-treaters are wearing, these can take motorists’ attention away from the road.
- Road conditions in the fall. By the time Halloween arrives, it gets dark much earlier. In addition, many of the leaves have fallen from the trees. This can cause slippery road conditions, particularly if it starts to rain. A wet patch of leaves on the road can be just as slippery as a patch of ice.
How Can Motorists Avoid an Accident on Halloween?
Whether you are driving in a residential area or a busy city, all motorists have a responsibility to prioritize safety. On Halloween, there are significantly more children and pedestrians on the roads, so it is imperative that you use extra caution and keep the following safety tips in mind:
- Slow down. The National Safety Council (NSC) recommends that all motorists drive below the speed limit when driving in a residential area, particularly during the hours of 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., which is the peak trick-or-treating time. It is recommended that you reduce your speed to 15 mph when driving through a neighborhood so that if you must come to a sudden stop, you will be able to do so in time to avoid hitting another car or a pedestrian. If you do hit a pedestrian when driving at a slow speed, the impact will be less severe than if you were driving faster.
- Turn on your headlights. Keep your headlights on, particularly as the sun starts to set. This will make your vehicle more visible to other motorists and pedestrians. In addition, by keeping your headlights on, you will be better able to see trick-or-treaters who may be wearing dark colored costumes.
- Avoid distractions. Talking on the phone, reading, or sending a text message, and reaching for an item in the back seat are all common distractions that take your attention off the road. It is imperative that you keep your attention focused on the road and the pedestrians crossing the street.
- Avoid impaired driving. If you are going to a Halloween party where alcohol is going to be served, either avoid driving or make sure that you have a safe ride home, either with a designated driver or a ridesharing service like Uber or Lyft.
- Use extra caution when backing out of driveways. If you are backing out of your driveway, make sure that there are no children walking by, or standing behind your car. Back up very slowly and look both ways before continuing to back out of your driveway. Most newer vehicles are equipped with rear cross traffic alerts that will notify you if another vehicle or a pedestrian is approaching, but older vehicles do not provide this safety feature, so it is up to you to make sure that there is no one walking past your driveway before you back out.
- Use signals when dropping kids off. If you are driving a group of kids to trick-or-treat, or to a Halloween party, make sure that you use your signal to alert other drivers that you are pulling over. Tell the children to wait to open the door until there are no cars coming. Turn your hazard lights on while the children are getting out of the car so that oncoming vehicles know to slow down.
- Pay close attention at crosswalks and intersections. Just because pedestrians are supposed to cross the street at crosswalks does not mean that they are going to always follow this rule. This is particularly true when kids are excited and distracted about getting to the next house to get more candy.
- Do not wear your costume while driving. If you are attending a Halloween party, wait until you arrive at the party to put your costume on, particularly if your costume has a mask or some type of headpiece. This can impair your peripheral vision, which allows you to scan the road around you. In addition to affecting your vision, a mask can be uncomfortable, causing you to adjust it and become distracted while you are driving.
What Safety Tips Should Trick-or-Treaters Keep in Mind?
Pedestrians should also use extra caution on Halloween, whether they are trick-or-treating or taking the dog for a routine walk. The following safety tips can help pedestrians of all ages have a safe Halloween:
- All children under the age of 12 should be accompanied by a parent or another responsible adult.
- If possible, go trick-or-treating before it gets dark, particularly if you are heading out with young children.
- Put cell phones away while trick-or-treating. If you are reading a text message or talking on the phone, you are more likely to cross the street without looking or pass a driveway where a car is backing up.
- Make sure that your children walk from house to house. If they start running, they are more likely to run across the street without looking.
- Choose a costume that has bright colors so that they are more visible to motorists. If the costume is dark, add reflective material to the front and back so that it is easier to see.
- If you are trick-or-treating after dark, carry a flashlight or glow sticks so that they are more visible to drivers.
- If you children are going trick-or-treating alone, make sure that they are always with at least one other friend and that they stay together the whole time. If they get separated from each other, tell your child to call you so that he or she is not walking around at night alone.
Springfield Car Accident Lawyers at Kicklighter Law Represent Victims of Halloween Car Accidents
If you or your child was seriously injured in a car accident on Halloween, contact the Springfield car accident lawyers at Kicklighter Law. We will determine who is responsible for causing the accident, help you navigate every step of the claims process, and fight for maximum financial compensation you deserve for your injuries. To schedule a confidential consultation, call us today at 912-205-6248 or fill out our online form. With our offices located in Springfield, Georgia, we proudly serve all clients of Springfield, Effingham County, Savannah, and surrounding areas.