Heads up: Busy mix of traffic and pedestrians on Halloween

WASHINGTON — This Halloween night is expected to bring an especially busy mix of cars and kids to the streets, increasing the chance for accidents.

That’s because it falls on Saturday.

“When you don’t have to deal with schoolwork or school the next morning, then more children will be present, and that should be a sobering wakeup call for drivers,” says AAA Mid-Atlantic’s John Townsend. “For children it’s one of the most dangerous nights of the year.”

The fact that Halloween falls on a weekend also means more adults will be partying, too.

“They’ll be out, and many of them will have too much to drink,” Townsend says.

In 2012, about half of all deadly traffic crashes on Halloween involved a drunken driver, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In 2013, 26 percent of pedestrian deaths on Halloween night involved a drunken driver.

This Halloween, the Washington Regional Alcohol Program is once again offering free cab rides home worth up to a $30 fare through its Halloween SoberRide program.

Among AAA Mid-Atlantic’s safety tips for trick-or-treaters:

  • Wear reflective tape on your costume.
  • Make sure your vision isn’t blocked. Wear makeup instead of a mask.
  • Cross the street only at intersections.
  • Stay alert while crossing. Don’t talk on a cellphone or text and walk.

Tips for drivers include:

  • Watch carefully for kids, who may not be watching for you.  Look out for children crossing streets mid-block or between parked cars.
  • Be particularly careful entering and exiting driveways and alleys.
  • As you drive, look back and forth beyond the road in front of you to yards and porches.

Safety experts also caution parents against delegating trick-or-treating supervision duties.

“Twelve percent of parents told us that they would allow their kids five and under to trick-or-treat without an adult,” says Kate Carr, president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide.

Carr says trick-or-treaters who are 12 or younger should be in the care of someone more experienced with navigating traffic.

“Kids who are 10, 11, 12, still haven’t learned to accurately judge speed and distance,” she says.

On average, children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed in traffic on Halloween than on any other day of the year, Safe Kids says.

Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter turned morning anchor at WTOP News.

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