Have you picked out your costume yet? Have you planned out your Trick-or-Treat route for this year? Tomorrow is Halloween, and it is by far one of my favorite holidays to celebrate, especially in the Pacific Northwest. There are so many local events and activities to check out in the area. If you are still looking for something ghoulish to do, I recommend taking a look at this article from the South Sound Magazine: Tacoma’s Best Halloween Activities for some ideas.
Even if you don’t plan on going out for Halloween this year, there can still be a lot of stress surrounding the holiday. Whether you are focused on making sure you have enough candy to pass out, or you’re hoping you can get that last minute DIY costume glued together in time, Halloween night comes with a lot of fun, but also a lot to worry about. This year I wanted to make sure that, in addition to racking up the largest candy pile on the block, you are prepared for a safe and fun night across the Puget Sound. If you follow the tips detailed below, you can keep your worries about the safety of yourself, your friends, and your family to a minimum and focus on enjoying the holiday instead.
You may be surprised to learn that although Halloween is ideally supposed to be all about amusement, candy, and fun — it can also be full of dangerous situations for both you and your family. The fact that DUI’s and alcohol-related incidents spike on October 31st may not be surprising to you, especially since alcohol has become a big part of the holiday. This year it is expected that more than 61 million households across the country will either attend or host a Halloween party and a recent survey suggests that 55% of those households plan to include alcohol in their celebrations. Including alcohol in your festivities can certainly liven up the party but if you do plan to consume alcohol this Halloween, please make plans to have a designated driver, so you aren’t tempted to get behind the wheel. You could risk not only a DUI charge but also the potential to hurt yourself or others in an accident. Plan ahead and remember that your safety and the safety of others is simply not worth the risk.
While potential DUI charges and/or accidents involving alcohol are something to surely prepare for, that’s not the only safety concern. In addition to the dangers that drinking and driving on Halloween pose, there are also plenty of safety issues for drivers that have not consumed alcohol to consider. You may have already noticed that the days are getting shorter and the sun is starting to set earlier in the evening. As darkness continues to come earlier in the day, it also becomes harder for drivers to see pedestrians, especially small children wearing dark costumes or clothing, in the dark. In fact, most auto accidents involving pedestrians occur when it is dark. Couple that with the fact that in the Pacific Northwest roads are often slick from rain, and you could potentially have a recipe for disaster on Halloween night if you are not taking extra precautions as a driver. As those that have lived in Washington for any amount of time surely know, even if the weather forecast predicts a 0% chance of precipitation, it is best to prepare for rain anyway. Water on roadways also increases the glare from vehicle lights and can decrease the driver’s visibility.
Make sure that if you are out driving on Halloween night you decrease your speed in residential areas and pay close attention to your surroundings. According to a recent analysis of fatality records on Halloween, more than 70% of car accidents on October 31st occur away from intersections and crosswalks. Stay extra vigilant and watch for children darting out into the street. It’s best not to pass stopped vehicles. They may be dropping off passengers or children. If you are the one stopping to drop off passengers, make sure to turn on your hazard lights so you can communicate with other drivers. Always yield to young pedestrians too. When families are in large groups it can be a challenge to keep track of everyone. Children might not stop for you either because they don’t see your vehicle approaching or they might not know how to safely cross the street. Kids are often overly excited to fill their bags with candy on Halloween night and don’t always consider the safe practices they have been taught to use when crossing the street.
It is especially important for younger, inexperienced drivers to consider the tips mentioned above. Young drivers, ages 15 to 25 years, accounted for ⅓ of all fatal accidents involving child pedestrians on Halloween from 1990 to 2010 (Fatality Analysis Reporting System). Unfortunately, because they have less experience on the road, the reflexes of new drivers and their decreased ability to anticipate potentially hazardous driving situations can lead to catastrophic consequences. As a parent, it may be best to simply keep your young driver off the road on Halloween night altogether — both for their safety as well as the safety of others. At the very least, try to keep them from driving from 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM. Historically, over 60% of motor vehicle accidents on October 31st occurred during this 4-hour window, with ¼ of accidents taking place between 6:00 PM and 7:00 PM (Fatality Analysis Reporting System).
Also, as a parent, if you have children headed out for trick-or-treating it never hurts to provide them with extra visibility features. Give them a flashlight or glow stick that can be worn with their costume. The easier it is for drivers to see them, the less likely it is for them to be hit by a motorist. Make sure you teach them how to cross the street properly or as an alternative to trick-or-treating outdoors, consider attending a local trunk or treat event that is indoors. Oftentimes these types of activities can be just as much, if not more, fun than going out on Halloween night — especially if it ends up raining on trick-or-treat night.
Ultimately, I hope that your Halloween night is full of fun and memories that you can look back on with a smile. So, go out and have a good time, but no matter your age or the activities you have planned for Halloween, please keep the tips I’ve listed here in mind as you enjoy the night. We truly care about your safety. From all of us here at Garguile Law, PLLC — Happy Halloween!