Safety tips for Halloween (and the dark nights ahead)

Halloween is Saturday, are you dressing up? Going to a party? Taking the kids around trick-or-treating? Or are you one of those people who turns off the porch light, closes the drapes and eats all the candy yourself? Whether you are spending your All Hallow's Eve in a hot itchy costume, or on the couch with a bag of Reese's Mini Peanut Butter Cups, it will most likely be dark by the time you get around doing whatever it is you have planned.

Unfortunately dark evenings mean a greater risk for pedestrians and bicyclists.  Of the 64 fatalities recorded in Washington for 2008, nearly half of them (29) occurred during the winter months of January and March.  We have gotten use to about six months of visibility during the evening hours and it can be slow to adjust to sudden darkness, made even more apparent by the end of Daylight savings time on November 1st.

The following safety tips will help all road users reduce the risk of being involved in a collision:

  • Stop at intersections for pedestrians – The leading cause for collisions involving pedestrians is a motorist’s failure to stop for pedestrians at intersections. The law requires motorists to stop for pedestrians in unmarked and marked crosswalks (all intersections are crosswalks, unless posted). It is also illegal to pass another vehicle stopped for a pedestrian at a crosswalk.
  • Drive the posted speed limit or below as weather and road conditions necessitate – Survivability rates for pedestrians involved in collisions with vehicles decreases as speeds increase. A crash at 20 mph or less has an estimated 95 percent survival rate compared to a much lower survival rate at higher speeds.
  • Pay special attention near schools, recreation areas and senior centers – The youngest and oldest are the most “at risk” to be involved in a pedestrian fatality.
  • Follow the rules of the road – Don’t drive under the influence, or while using electronic equipment or other distracters. Being a predictable driver helps other road users to anticipate your movements.
Pedestrians and bicyclists
  • Be seen – Wear bright or reflective outerwear, use lights at night, and choose routes that are lighted, especially at intersections, whenever possible.
  • Make eye contact with the driver – Keep hats, hoods, helmets and umbrellas clear of your line of vision.
  • Walk or bike where it’s safest – For a pedestrian that means sidewalks and trails when they are available, and if not, walk on the edge of the road facing traffic. For a bicyclist that means bike lanes, shoulders and trails when available, and if not, bike as far to the right side of the road as is safe in the direction of traffic.
  •  Be a predictable road user – Following the rules of the road helps other road users know what to expect from you and helps to avoid collisions.

And since it is Halloween, I put together a safety treat for all of the little ghouls and goblins in your life. Here is a Halloween tip sheet you can download and print to keep everyone safe while they head out on the hunt for candy. Happy Halloween!
Halloween Safety Tips