By: Sarah Schindler, Esq.
Over the summer, a change.org petition caught media attention as tens of thousands of supporters signed on to move the date of Halloween to a Saturday. The petition — which has since been changed to advocate for a Saturday Trick or Treat Day in addition to Halloween on October 31st — points to safety as a primary concern, citing that many children go trick-or-treating without proper reflective gear, flashlights, or safety planning.
Safety considerations should be on everyone’s radar as Halloween approaches. Especially concerning are the rates of pedestrian traffic incidents. In 2018, a study of U.S. traffic data reported the overall rate of pedestrian deaths increases by 43% on Halloween night (as compared to October 24th or November 7th. The research, published in JAMA Pediatrics, included four decades of data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System. Children ages 4-8 were found to be at a 10-fold increased risk for pedestrian fatalities on October 31st. The researchers concluded that “policymakers, physicians, and parents should act to make residential streets safer for pedestrians on Halloween and throughout the year.”
To help ensure a safe Halloween, the following are some of our favorite safety tips from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), NHTSA, and PennDOT:
- Younger children should be supervised by an adult. Older children should be reminded to cross the street at street corners (using traffic signals and crosswalks), look both ways before crossing the street, and walk on sidewalks or facing traffic.
- Costumes should be clearly visible to motorists. Visibility can be increased with brightly colored costumes, reflective tape, glow sticks, and flashlights.
- Drivers should be extra cautious, especially in residential neighborhoods. This includes taking extra time at intersections to be sure there are no children looking to cross the street, entering and exiting driveways/alleys slowly and carefully, and not driving distracted.
- Party hosts should take action to prevent guests from walking alone or driving after drinking. This includes being prepared to call taxis, providing sleeping accommodations, and designating sober drivers and walking buddies.