The Automobile Club of Southern California wants everyone to celebrate safely this Halloween. Drivers, pedestrians, party hosts, and homeowners can all take steps to avoid many common hazards that occur over the holiday.
With Halloween falling on a weekday, drivers will need to take extra precautions as they commute home from work, while parents and trick-or-treaters as well as homeowners should also make safety a top priority.
“Don’t drive or walk under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including over-the-counter medicines that can impair driving,” said Anita Lorz Villagrana, the Auto Club’s community programs and traffic safety manager. “Also, avoid using hand-held devices, including mobile phones, while driving or walking. Everyone should prevent being ‘intexticated’ while out on Halloween night. Crashes occur primarily between six and seven p.m. during the evening commute home and while young children are going door-to-door.”
Tips for Drivers
- Avoid neighborhood shortcuts. If possible, avoid cutting through residential streets where trick-or-treaters are likely to be present. When providing directions to a party, try not to route guests through neighborhoods unnecessarily.
- Watch for children in the street. Watch for children walking on streets, medians and curbs. Excited trick-or-treaters, often in dark costumes, may not pay attention to traffic and cross mid-block or between parked cars.
- Slow down. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a pedestrian is more than twice as likely to be killed if they’re hit by a car traveling at 35 mph compared to 25 mph. What seems like a small difference—just 10 mph—can be the difference between life and death.
- Drive sober. Alcohol-impaired drivers make up about one-third of all motor vehicle deaths resulting in an average of one death every 45 minutes. Always designate a sober driver if you plan to drink.
- Trick-or-Treat together. AAA recommends that parents accompany young trick-or-treaters at least until the age of 12.
- Review safety precautions with children. Include traffic safety rules in the review such as 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.
- 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.
- Check costumes. Choose disguises that don't obstruct vision and opt for non-toxic face paint instead of masks. Check and adjust the length of costumes to avoid tripping and add reflective material or tape to keep kids visible.
- 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.
- Buckle up. If driving trick-or-treaters between neighborhoods, always use appropriate car seats and have children exit and enter on the passenger side of the vehicle.
Homeowner Safety Tips
- Avoid using lit candles or open flames as decoration. These present a fire hazard as they can easily be knocked over by excited trick or treaters. Instead use LED products made by credible manufacturers. Ensure that all wires and connectors are in good shape and that no wires are exposed. Make sure that all smoke detectors are in good working order with fresh batteries.
- Ensure that walkways around your home are free of obstructions, such as water hoses, newspapers, garden tools, toys, rocks, and/or Halloween decorations. Also check to make sure sidewalks and porches do not have large cracks or uneven surfaces that could cause trick or treaters to fall.
- Secure your home since thieves may look for a window of opportunity while you’re away. Make sure all doors and windows are locked, your home is well lit, and if you have a home security alarm, activate it.
Halloween Party Tips
For those who plan to celebrate Halloween events, the Auto Club recommends the following to prevent driving while impaired by alcohol, marijuana or any substance that affects driving skills:
- Make plans to get home safely. If celebrating with alcohol, arrange for a designated driver, cab or ride sharing service to be available to and from the party location.
- 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.
- 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.
- Think about 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.