(LOS ANGELES, Oct. 22, 2009) – Halloween lands on a Saturday night this year, which may cause an increase in the number of partygoers and trick-or-treaters taking to the streets compared to Halloween nights that occur during weekdays. 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 Anita Lorz of the Auto Club’s Traffic Safety Department. “With Halloween on a Saturday this year, most festivities are expected to take place that evening, putting a large number of adult partygoers on the road on the same night as young trick-or-treaters.”
About 30 percent of all adults will be celebrating with others and 62 percent of those ages 18-24 will attend or throw 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 an increase in the number of motor vehicle fatalities on Halloween when it is on a weekend, so it’s very important for motorists and pedestrians to be extra cautious,” said Lorz.
Nationally, Halloween-night motor vehicle fatalities increase an average of 40 percent to 382 deaths when Oct. 31 falls on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday, compared to other days of the week, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In 2008, more than half (58 percent) of all highway fatalities on Halloween night (6 p.m. Oct. 31 to 6 a.m. Nov. 1) involved a driver with a blood alcohol content (BAC) over the legal limit of 0.08.
The Auto Club suggests partygoers and trick-or-treaters reduce their risk of being involved in a motor vehicle crash by advance planning.
Tips for 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, treat buckets and/or treat 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, masks or other accessories do not obstruct the child’s view.
- Review safety precautions with children. Review traffic safety rules such as watching out for cars, staying on the sidewalk, crossing the street at crosswalks, not walking in front of, behind or between parked cars and stopping 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 children's peripheral vision, and they may not be able to see a vehicle.