As thousands of Utah children head to the streets after dark tonight, drivers are cautioned to be extra attentive to the increased risk of auto-pedestrian accidents on Halloween.
Each holiday has hazards that are somewhat distinctive to that holiday alone. Independence Day sees a large amount of accidental fires and burn victims while there is always an uptick of drunk drivers on holidays such as New Year’s Eve. Unfortunately on Halloween there are more auto-pedestrian accidents than any other holiday and most of the victims involved are children.
Increased auto-pedestrian accidents and deaths
A 20 year study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states: “Overall, among children aged 5-14 years, “an average of four deaths occurred on Halloween during [the hours of 4 p.m. through 10 p.m.] each year, compared with an average of one death during these hours on every other day of the year.” According to the CDC, this drastic surge of auto-pedestrian accidents and deaths on Halloween is likely due to these factors:
• Most of the foot traffic is at night compared to daytime when children are usually outside;
• Kids are less likely to cross at crosswalks and will take the fastest route to the next house which can often take them into the roadway on blind corners and between parked cars;
• Many costumes children wear are dark colored making it harder for drivers to see them;
• Children may be too distracted to be aware of vehicle dangers;
• Young trick-or-treaters may be unable to cross the street swiftly enough;
• Masks and other costumes may limit a child’s vision and hearing;
• Young children may not fully understand the danger of cars; and
• Some kids may not realize that they can be hurt, even in a crosswalk.
Criminal charges for drivers involved
Drivers are expected to be extra vigilant when driving on the evening of Halloween. Although most auto-pedestrian accidents are not deliberate, drivers who are involved may end up facing charges for their role, especially if a death occurs. The charges could be both criminal and civil and can range from misdemeanors to felonies, depending on the severity of the incident and whether negligence or impairment was involved. Drivers who are involved in auto-pedestrian accidents are urged to speak with a criminal defense attorney immediately.