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Everyone needs to be a little more careful on Halloween: this is why

People behave strangely (and too often, dangerously) on Halloween.

Adults wear costumes that conceal their identities. Children walk the streets at night, asking for candy.

It’s probably not surprising that your car is almost twice as likely to be vandalized on Halloween than on any other day of the year. Or that emergency rooms report a spike in patients, especially with hand injuries and broken bones.

But the odds are that Halloween 2015 will be even more strange—and even more dangerous—than it has been in years past.

Here’s why.

This year, Halloween is on a Saturday.

NHTSA ad drinking and driving Halloween
Drinking and driving is particularly deadly on Halloween…and on Saturday night

On the average Halloween night, between 40-50% of fatal crashes involve a drunk driver.

When Halloween is on a Friday or Saturday, more people go to parties or to bars.

Saturday is already the most dangerous day of the week on U.S. roads, with more car crash deaths than any other day.

In 2009, the last year Halloween fell on a Saturday, Oregon State troopers arrested twice as many drivers for DUII than the year before.

A deadly night for pedestrians

  • Kids have a 30% narrower field of vision than adults.
  • They don’t know how to judge the speed or distance of moving vehicles.
  • Small children are harder to see than adults, especially after dark … and in costume.
Kids_Halloween_Costumes
*Some costumes make it harder for kids to see oncoming traffic, especially in the dark

The grim reality: the fatality rate for child pedestrians is two to four times higher on Halloween than on any other day of the year.

And it’s not just children at risk.

Overall, Halloween ranks as the third-deadliest day of the year for pedestrians, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

An early sunset …

The sun will set around 6 p.m. in the Pacific Northwest on Saturday, October 31.

Most trick-or-treating happens between 5 and 9 p.m. Since it’s not a school night, children and teenagers may be out later than usual.

… And an extra hour

Daylight Saving Time ends on Sunday, November 1, at 2 a.m.

That’s an extra hour of sleep for some people … and an extra hour of Halloween partying for others.

Saturday  + More people drinking and driving  + Millions of pedestrians + Dark night + Extra hour

= A Scary Halloween 2015 .

Be a little more careful this Halloween.

If you’re taking kids trick-or-treating:

  • Give each kid a small flashlight or glow stick.
  • Put reflective tape on costumes, shoes and/or candy bags.
  • Before you go out, remind children to cross the street only at intersections, and look both ways.
  • See more from Safe Kids USA

If you’re going out or driving anywhere:

  • Stay off side streets or neighborhood streets.
  • Be particularly careful at intersections, especially before turning.
  • Turn off your phone, and reduce any distractions in your car.
  • If you are drinking, don’t drive. Park your car somewhere safe, and call a cab.
  • If you suspect a driver is drunk or impaired, call 9-1-1, or in Oregon: 1-800-24DRUNK.

Whatever you do, please be safe this Halloween.

  • Photo credit: ToyahAnette B (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
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