When you think of Halloween trick-or-treating, you probably think of excited kids, yummy treats, and fun decorations. However, the 31st of October is actually the deadliest night of the year for pedestrians. There are twice as many pedestrian fatalities on this night than there are on other average nights; this rate is higher even than New Years and the Fourth of July.

Between 1990 and 2010, the average number of pedestrian deaths was 5.5 on Halloween. Compared to the average of 2.6 deaths on other days of the year, this indicates a significant increase in the risk of fatality on this holiday. And the signs of risk are everywhere. The streets are teeming with excited kids rushing to ring as many doorbells as they can. They are out later than they are used to being out, so they have little experience walking on the street in the dark, and each group of a dozen kids is usually supervised by one adult at most. They might see their classmate across the street and rush across to see their costume. The decorations and costumes might be too distracting for the kid to remember to look both ways before crossing the street.

It’s easy to see why the risk for pedestrian injury and fatality is so high on this holiday. However, few parents talk to their kids about safety specifically pertaining to trick-or-treating. Adults also don’t talk to each other about how to keep the streets safe for the kids by driving more carefully and avoiding high pedestrian traffic areas. So let’s start talking about how to make the streets safer this year so that we don’t contribute to the statistic and instead work on bringing it down.

Safety Tips for Drivers on Halloween

  • Slow down
    10 mph might not feel like a lot to you, but it can make a very big difference when a child is hit by a car going 30 or a car going 20. It can literally be the difference between life and death. Slow down. There’s no rush that can justify endangering children.
  • Avoid Neighborhoods
    Don’t take that shortcut through the neighborhood’s side streets. Plan your route so that you’re driving through neighborhoods as little as possible. Because of all the pedestrian traffic, it’ll likely cost you more time than you save anyways.
  • Radio Down, Eyes Peeled
    Pay attention and watch for children crossing the street or walking by your car. Be aware that they may be wearing dark costumes without reflective tape or bright flashlights. This reduced visibility and their carelessness amid the excitement of trick-or-treating make them more likely to act unexpectedly, running into the street without paying attention to traffic. You need to anticipate erratic and hazardous situations with young pedestrians and be ready to stop. Turn the music down so that you can hear kids or parents talking, signalling that they are near your vehicle.
  • Celebrate Responsibly
    We know that many adults also like to participate in the celebration of this holiday, dressing up and partying with friends. Be responsible. If you’re driving, don’t drink—at all. Don’t risk anything with so many children in the streets. Call a taxi or a friend to pick you up.