Sharp Rise in Traffic Fatalities Seen When Holiday Observance Falls on Weekend
(LOS ANGELES, Oct. 29, 2008) -- Halloween is landing on a Friday-this Friday--causing an expected rise in the number of partygoers and trick-or-treaters taking to the streets on Halloween night. The Automobile Club of Southern California urges revelers both young and old to make plans to stay safe.
"When Halloween falls during the middle of the work week, parties and events are spread out over several days to include the weekend," said the Auto Club's Traffic Safety Team Leader Anita Lorz. "With Halloween on a Friday this year, most festivities are expected to take place that evening putting a large number of adult partygoers on the road the same night as trick-or-treaters."
Two out of three adults ages 18 to 24 plan to throw or attend a Halloween party this year, according to the National Retail Federation, and 93 percent of children are expected to go trick-or-treating reports the National Confectioners Association.
"Unfortunately we also see a sharp rise in the number of motor vehicle fatalities on Halloween when it is on a weekend, so it's critical for both motorists and pedestrians to take extra caution and make sure this is a safe and happy Halloween for everyone," said Lorz.
Numbers of motor vehicle fatalities on Halloween increase an average of 40 percent to 382 deaths when October 31 is on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday, compared to other days of the week, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The Auto Club suggests partygoers and trick-or-treaters reduce their risk of being involved in a motor vehicle crash by advance planning.
Partygoers & Hosts
Make plans to get home safely. If intending to consume alcohol, make plans to get home safely by selecting a designated driver or ensuring cab service is available from the party location. Do not drive if you have been drinking.
Consider an overnight stay. If attending a party at a friend's home, consider asking to stay overnight. If participating in festivities in a downtown or commercial area, look into hotel accommodations within walking distance. Many hotels offer special Halloween weekend rates and promotions.
Have safe transportation options ready. If hosting a party with alcohol, compile a list of phone numbers including local cab companies and organizations offering designated driver services to have readily available should guests need a safe way home.
Plan your travel route carefully. Try to avoid cutting through residential areas that will likely have a large number of trick-or-treaters. If providing directions to a party, make sure to not route guests through residential areas unnecessarily.
Take care of designated drivers and offer alternatives to alcohol. Plan to have non-alcoholic drink options available for designated drivers and others. Serve plenty of food so partygoers do not drink on empty stomachs.
Trick-or-Treaters & Parents
Select highly visible costumes. Look for light, bright and reflective costumes that make trick-or-treaters easy to see. Add reflective tape to costumes and treat buckets and bags to increase visibility.
Ensure costumes fit well. Have trick-or-treaters try on, walk and play in costumes and shoes in advance to check fit. Make sure nothing comes loose or might cause the child to trip. Check that wigs or other accessories do not obstruct the child's view.
- Review safety precautions with children. Include traffic safety rules in the review such as watch out for cars, stay on the sidewalk, cross the street at crosswalks, avoid walking in front of, behind or between parked cars and stop at driveways to make sure no vehicles are coming in and out.
- Plan trick-or-treating route and supervision in advance. Avoid areas with heavy vehicle traffic and look for well-lit streets with sidewalks. Make arrangements for an adult or a responsible teen to accompany younger trick-or-treaters.
- Get a flashlight with fresh batteries. A flashlight can help trick-or-treaters see and be seen, but it should never be directed at someone's eyes including those of passing motorists.
Watch speed. Motorists should slow down as they drive through neighborhoods, preferably five miles per hour less than the posted speed limit.
Watch carefully for children. Children may not be paying attention to traffic and might cross mid-block or between parked cars. Motorists should scan far ahead in traffic to watch for children and try to anticipate their actions.
- Look out for children in dark clothing. Children may be difficult to see if they are wearing dark costumes or masks. Be aware that masks may hinder a child's peripheral vision, and they may not be able to see a vehicle.