With horror movie marathons and scariest costume contests, Halloween is a time to celebrate all things spooky. The first official Halloween celebration happened in Anoka, Minnesota, complete with a parade and bonfire, back in 1920 as a way to cut down on Halloween pranks in the town. These days, October 31st is synonymous with trick-or-treating, which means all sorts of costumed little ones are crawling the streets.
Urban legends will tell you the most dangerous part of Halloween is a razor blade or poison hidden in candy. Even though tainted Halloween candy is of questionable credibility, that’s not to say there’s nothing dangerous about the holiday. According to Safe Kids Worldwide, twice as many kids are killed while walking on Halloween than on any other day in the year.
Halloween should be a day for fun and a little bit of mischief, not for tragedy. Each year, we like to share some tips to help keep everyone safe on Halloween.
1. Slow down.
If you’re driving on Halloween, be sure to slow down and drive under the posted speed limit in residential areas. Many neighborhoods host trick-or-treating on the days leading up to Halloween, so keep an eye out for little ones in the street this time of year. Kids are unpredictable. Little kids don’t understand the danger of running out into the street, especially when they’re excited and full of sugar! Even older kids can forget to look both ways on such an exciting night. Slow down, and be on the lookout for little feet around and under parked vehicles.
Even if you’re out way past the time trick-or-treaters go to bed, remember that Halloween parties can often involve drinking, and there is an increase in intoxicated driving around the holidays. First, never drive intoxicated yourself. Second, if you think you see an intoxicated driver on the road around you, slow down and keep extra space between your vehicles. Consider reporting them to the authorities.
2. Stay visible.
This rule applies to drivers and pedestrians. When you’re behind the wheel, keep your headlights on (even if it’s still light outside). Be diligent about using your turn signals, and don’t be afraid to signal earlier than you normally would.
If you’re supervising a trick-or-treater, make sure they are visible, too. Glow sticks are a great option, as well as reflective tape on shoes and a flashlight. Remind them to watch for cars, and stick to crosswalks rather than cutting across the street.
3. Drive defensively.
Defensive driving is always important, especially when there are more pedestrians on the road. Defensive driving means always being alert. Practice the IPDE method, which stands for Identify, Predict, Decide, Execute.
Here’s how that plays out for Halloween. Say you’re pulling into your neighborhood and spot a group of trick-or-treaters. Identify the trick-or-treaters as a potential hazard. Next, predict that a tiny Spiderman may run out in front of you. Decide to slow down and wait for the children to pass. Complete the process by executing your decisionâ€”remove your foot from the accelerator and cover the break until you’re in the clear.
Another way to make sure you’re driving defensively is to take one of our courses! Check out our website to see if Safe2Drive offers a course in your state, and encourage your friends to do the same. We all need to do our part to keep the roadways safe!
4. Avoid distracted driving.
Our final tip is another one that should be practiced every day, but is especially important this time of year. Taking your eyes off the road for even just a few seconds to skim an email or respond to a text puts you and everyone around you in danger. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving claimed 3,166 lives in 2017. Don’t use your cell phone or other communications device while you’re behind the wheel, and if you need to check your phone for whatever reason, pull over in a safe location first.
We hope you have a safe and fun Halloween! Keep these safe-driving tips in mind, and we hope you share them with others. If you’d like to learn more driving tips and how to become a defensive driver, please check out our website to see what courses we offer in your state.