With Halloween upon us, Harrisburg and its neighboring communities will be filled with eager trick-or-treaters, spooky decorations, and parties. For all the fun Halloween brings, it also presents serious safety hazards—primarily to pedestrians.
According to a study that referenced 42 years of data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the risk of pedestrian fatalities was 43% higher on Halloween.
The risk to children aged 4 to 8 was 10 times higher.
With more pedestrians on the roads and more distractions—not to mention more parties where motorists might be served (or over-served) alcohol—the increase in pedestrian fatalities is, sadly, unsurprising. Pennsylvanians can mitigate these risks by being vigilant and following several safety tips.
For Motorists: Beware of Little Ghouls & Goblins
Motorists should take extra caution on Halloween. They should:
- Reduce Speed in Residential Areas: Anticipate heavy pedestrian traffic, especially between 5:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., the prime trick-or-treating hours. Drive more slowly than usual, and stay on the lookout for trick-or-treaters of all ages.
- Stay Alert at Crossings: Even if you have the right of way, be extra vigilant at intersections and crosswalks. Small children or even distracted adults might attempt to cross at any time.
- Avoid Distractions: Put your phone away and keep your full attention on the road. Being aware of your surroundings is your first line of defense against a serious accident.
- Illuminate Headlights: Even if it's still light out, turning on your headlights makes your vehicle more visible to pedestrians.
- Never Drive Under the Influence: Halloween parties may involve alcohol. If you choose to drink, make sure you have a designated driver or use a rideshare service.
For Pedestrians: Safe Passage for Trick-or-Treaters
Pedestrians can also take steps to protect themselves while trick-or-treating. They can:
- Wear Reflective Clothing or Accessories: Bright costumes or reflective tape can make you and your children more visible to drivers, particularly as the sun goes down and visibility becomes limited. Glow sticks can also be helpful.
- Always Cross at Designated Crosswalks: Avoid darting out between parked cars or crossing in the middle of the block. Also, take caution when walking behind cars in driveways.
- Supervise Young Trick-or-Treaters: Always accompany children, ensuring they follow safe crossing practices.
- Carry a Flashlight: You can use a flashlight to illuminate your path and signal your presence to drivers. Even the light on your phone can do in a pinch!
- Avoid Masks that Limit Vision: Consider face paint or makeup as an alternative to masks that make it difficult to see or hear what’s going on around you.
For Party Hosts: Ensuring Safe & Responsible Celebrations
If you are hosting a Halloween party, be sure to:
- Monitor Alcohol Consumption: As a host, you have a duty to ensure guests don't drink and drive. Be alert to anyone's level of intoxication, and step in to help if needed.
- Offer Non-Alcoholic Beverages: Provide a variety of drinks for designated drivers and those who choose not to consume alcohol. Themed non-alcoholic drinks can be a big hit!
- Arrange Alternative Transportation: Encourage guests to use taxis or rideshare services if they need them. Consider having a sober driver on standby.
- Clear Walking Paths: Ensure walkways are well-lit and free from tripping hazards to avoid any accidents on your property.
In Pennsylvania, social hosts may be held legally responsible for overserving guests who then cause harm as a result of their intoxication. Something as simple as stopping a friend from driving drunk or encouraging a loved one to sleep it off at your home could not only save lives, but it could also protect you from being held liable for their actions when they leave.
Open Streets Halloween Safety Initiatives
Traditionally, cities have responded with safety reminders and advice on high-visibility costumes. However, a proactive shift is emerging. In recent years, cities across the U.S. have initiated "open streets" for Halloween, creating designated vehicle-free zones. In Jackson Heights, New York, the city saw a 42% drop in car accidents since the program’s introduction in 2020. This year, NYC announced more than 100 vehicle-free “Trick-or-Streets” as part of its Halloween safety initiative.
With an “open streets” program, certain streets or neighborhoods will be closed to traffic, offering pedestrians a safe place to trick-or-treat without having to worry about encountering vehicles.
Handler, Henning & Rosenberg LLC Is Committed to Your Safety
This Halloween, while the spooky and eerie are all in good fun, safety should never be a matter of chance. From all of us at Handler, Henning & Rosenberg LLC, we wish everyone a safe, fun-filled Halloween. And remember, should you need any assistance, we're always here to help.
Call (888) 498-3023 or contact us online for help after any type of accident or injury.