The scariest thing about Halloween – a holiday which is meant to excited and delight children – has nothing to do with goblins or ghouls — or clowns. Instead, the most frightening thing about this holiday is a chilling car accident statistic that comes from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
“Halloween is a particularly deadly night due to drunk drivers,” the NHTSA reports as part of its “Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving” awareness campaign.
“In 2015, over half (52 percent) of all highway fatalities across the nation on Halloween night involved a driver or a motorcycle rider with a BAC of .08 or higher,” according to the federal traffic safety agency.
As the NHTSA reports, between 2009 and 2013, an estimated 43 percent of all people killed in motor vehicle crashes on Halloween night were in crashes involving a drunk driver. In all, 119 people died in Halloween auto accidents during that five-year period.
Unfortunately, children who are out trick-or-treating – and the parents accompanying them – face the risk of being struck by an alcohol-impaired driver . The NHTSA states that 19 percent of fatal pedestrian crashes on Halloween night 2009 and 2013 involved drunk drivers.
Speeding and other forms of careless and reckless driving also contribute to injuries and deaths in accidents on Halloween.
Regardless of the root cause, children who are out trick-or-treating and/or going to carnivals or parties on Halloween are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed than on any other day of the year.
That should frighten all of us.
It should also make us all want to stop, think and take any steps necessary to keep it from happening in Teaneck or anywhere else in New Jersey.
At Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C., we want to help. While usually we assist New Jersey families after an accident, here, we want to help avoid accidents. If you plan to go out on Halloween, with or without children, please heed the seven safety tips we offer below:
1. If you are driving on Halloween, slow down.
Watch for children, especially between 5:30 and 9:30 p.m., which are the most common trick–or-treat hours in New Jersey. Particularly in residential areas and school zones, actively try to spot children and other pedestrians.
Be extra cautious at intersections and when coming upon side streets or rounding curves. If possible, avoid residential areas such as those you normally drive through as shortcuts.
2. Don’t drink and drive.
If you have been drinking, do not get behind the wheel. If you plan to drink at a Halloween party, make arrangements for a ride home with a non-drinking driver or contact a taxi, Uber, Lyft or other car service. If you need help getting a ride, ask your host or a waitress, waiter or bartender. They should be happy to help.
3. Stay alert when driving.
Put away cell phones and other distractions while behind the wheel. You need to stay focused on your surroundings – not looking down at a screen. Excited children who are out trick-or-treating can dart into traffic. Adults who have been partying can also be in the streets when and where they shouldn’t be.
4. Prepare your trick-or-treaters.
If you are supervising children, before heading out, talk to them about walking instead of running. You should also discuss the importance of crossing the street at corners and staying with the group. Additionally, plan your route, choosing well-lit streets with sidewalks, if possible.
If you are driving trick-or-treaters between neighborhoods, make sure they buckle up, or make sure that you use appropriate car seats.
Never allow your children to use cell phones or other electronic devices while walking. Make sure they are watching what they and others are doing.
5. Be visible to drivers.
If you are accompanying trick-or-treaters or otherwise walking on Halloween night, try to stand out.
Trick-or-treaters should travel as a group. Walk on sidewalks or paths. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.
Wear clothing or costumes that are brightly colored or made of light-reflective materials. If necessary, add light-reflective tape to costumes and trick-or-treat bags. Carry a flashlight or glow stick.
6. Make your home safe for visitors.
If you are welcoming trick-or-treaters or party guests on Halloween, turn on your porch lights and any other outdoor lights you have. Check to make sure everything is working.
Make sure walkways and stairs at your home are well-lit and free of obstacles that could cause people to slip or trip and fall. Instead of candles, use UL-approved electric or battery-operated lights or glow sticks for illuminated decorations such as jack-o-lanterns.
Make sure any cords are out of walking paths.
7. Look after your party guests.
Pedestrians as well as drivers who have had too much to drink are a danger to themselves and others. If you serve alcohol to guests, serve substantial food and non-alcoholic drinks as well.
If a guest has had too much to drink, do not let the guest drive or leave alone. Find the person a ride or offer a bed or couch overnight.
Our Experience New Jersey Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help You
The attorneys of Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C., wish you and your children a happy Halloween. We want your Halloween to be accident-free.
If an accident does occur, and you or a loved one is seriously injured, you have rights. You may be able to recover compensation for any medical expenses, property damage, pain and suffering and other costs associated with your accident and injuries.
We can help if you are injured in an accident this Halloween that was someone else’s fault. Call us at (800) LAW-2000 or complete our online form to schedule a free and confidential consultation about the legal options available to you.