As Jack-o’-lanterns, cobwebs and candy decorate towns across the country, local and state officials reminded drivers and pedestrians to stay safe this Halloween.
“We absolutely encourage both pedestrians and drivers to be extra safe during Halloween activities. That means always being alert for other vehicles and people nearby, and especially putting down electronic devices while walking,” said Carlsbad Mayor Dale Janway. “For drivers, please be extra cautious this year, especially when driving in areas with a large number of pedestrians.”
October is Pedestrian Safety Month. The New Mexico Department of Transportation stated that the goal is to increase awareness around pedestrian safety and remind drivers to watch for pedestrians each time they are behind the wheel.
A recent study published by AutoInsurance.org found that pedestrians have a 50% higher chance of dying on Halloween than on an average day of the year and 18% of people who die in fatal car accidents on Halloween are children.
The DOT stated that children are more likely to get injured because they are small, may have trouble judging distance and speeds and have little to no experience with traffic rules.
“Halloween evening is one of the most dangerous times for pedestrians, especially children but trick-or-treaters aren’t the only ones who need to watch out,” said New Mexico Transportation Secretary Mike Sandoval. “Drivers and walkers bear dual responsibility for pedestrian safety and that is true all year long.”
The study also found that there are 11% more fatal crashes when Halloween is held on a weekday and Saturday is the safest day of the week for the holiday.
In 2010 the City of Carlsbad changed Halloween celebrations to Saturday, Oct. 30. That day a mother was killed in a hit-and-run after saving a group of children that were out trick-or-treating.
Janway said the city received a lot of feedback from the community about changing the 2021 day for trick-or-treating.
“After consideration, we decided to leave it on the 31st this year. There are numerous activities planned for the 29th and 30th as well. We encourage families to have a fun weekend, but to please celebrate safely,” Janway said.
DOT pedestrian safety tips for Halloween
- Light the way. Bring glow sticks or a flashlight with extra batteries to see and be seen in the dark.
- Be visible. Put reflective tape on clothes, costumes, and trick-or-treat bags to make them more visible to passing motorists.
- Use the crosswalk. Cross the street at a crosswalk or intersections. Never cross the street from between parked cars.
- Stay on the sidewalk. If available, use the sidewalk. Otherwise, walk on the shoulder facing traffic.
- Pay attention and stay off your phone. Distracted walking can be as hazardous as distracted driving so watch where you are going.
- Review traffic safety. Talk to trick-or-treater about basic traffic laws before leaving the house.
- Practice defensive driving. Be cautious and stay alert to reduce the risk of getting into a crash. Enter and exit driveways carefully.
- Put down your phone. Place your phone in the glove box or back seat.
- Watch your speed. Pay attention to the speed limit and drive slower when around pedestrians.
- Be prepared to stop. Trick-or-treaters may ignore crosswalks and traffic signals so stay alert. Do not pass a vehicle stopped at a crosswalk – they may be stopped for a pedestrian.
- Do not drive under the influence. Every 50 minutes, one person in the United States dies in a motor vehicle crash that involves an alcohol-impaired driver.
- Properly buckle kids no matter how short the trip. Properly secure children in their car seats, booster seats and seat belts when transporting them and make sure their costumes don’t interfere with the restraint.
Claudia Silva is a reporter from the UNM Local Reporting Fellowship. She can be reached at [email protected], by phone at 575-628-5506 or on Twitter @thewatchpup.