Tips for staying safe from Halloween accidents in Atlanta
Spooky season is here, which means it’s time for scary movie nights, pumpkin patch photo shoots and over-the-top lawn décor. Best of all though? Halloween night, when neighborhoods transform, kids take over the sidewalks and streets, and usually quite cul-de-sacs become vibrant sites for celebration. But while Halloween brings out the creativity and community spirit, the combination of sugar-high kiddos, dark costumes, dark nights and distracted driving can lead to accidents—sometimes tragic ones.
In fact, kids ages 4 to 8 years experience a 10-fold increase in their pedestrian fatality risk on Halloween night, according to a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), where researchers analyzed 42 years of Halloween injury statistics.
What are common causes of Halloween accidents in Atlanta?
In the JAMA study, researchers found that the relative risk of pedestrian fatality was 43 percent higher on Halloween night. At highest risk were children: the most likely to be out and about, wearing costumes that make it hard to see or be seen and moving in unexpected ways.
And because kids tend to trick-or-treat away from busy streets, it means that most Halloween pedestrian accidents (even fatal ones) occur in residential neighborhoods, on streets that may feel safe the rest of the year.
Accidents occur for many reasons, but on Halloween, the most common causes are a combination of reckless driving and the driving challenges posed by low light, low visibility and the unpredictable movements of trick-or-treaters.
Halloween safety tips for drivers
While there’s plenty that kids and their grownups can do to create a safer trick-or-treating experience (more on that later), the responsibility ultimately falls to every driver who picks up keys Halloween night. Whether you’re driving to a party, running to the store for some last minute candy supplies or taking your own kids caravanning, Halloween driving requires you to stay alert and drive cautiously.
Here are a few ideas to keep in mind as you brave neighborhoods filled with ghosts, goblins and more than a few superheroes:
- Start by preparing early. Do you have to drive at dusk? Basic errands can often wait, and party plans can sometimes be adjusted to avoid peak trick-or-treating times.
- If you are planning to hit the road at show time, plan ahead by parking facing forward to avoid backing up into the crowds.
- Expect kids to be out, and to be out everywhere. This means on the sidewalks, in your driveway, on the curbs, in the road. Take it slow, driving under the speed limit.
- Turn on your headlights before you think you’ll need them.
- Yield to pedestrians, even if they’re not crossing appropriately. And always assume one darting child might be followed by another.
- Drop your teen off yourself. Halloween night is not the time to test new a driver’s skills.
- Don’t drive distracted. Yes, social media is possibly at its best Halloween night, but put down your phone while you’re on the road.
- Never drive under the influence of alcohol—even a small amount of alcohol can affect reaction time, coordination and vision.
Even if you’re not planning to drive, it’s easy to contribute to a safer streetscape by moving your car off the curb if possible. Parked cars create visual obstructions that might make drivers miss darting kids.
Driving with the kids: tips for a safer door-to-door experience
For some families, trick-or-treating in their immediate neighborhood may not be an option, due to large roads, commercial developments or neighborhood participation.
If you plan to drive your kids every few houses, make sure they buckle up between stops. Pull over in safe locations, turning on your hazards. And be sure to choose costumes that work with car seats or boosters. Bulky or padded costumes only work if your child is changing at the destination, not hopping in and out of the car.
How can I prepare my kids for a safe Halloween?
If you are out and about, remember that the most important thing is to be seen. This means considering visibility in your costume choices, emphasizing pedestrian safety and never assuming cars will give your group the right of way.
To stay safe and avoid a Halloween injury:
- Use reflective tape to brighten up costumes and candy bags, or add some glow stick necklaces and bracelets. Most kids will also love carrying flashlights—you can even look for ones that project fun, spooky designs.
- Choose a light-colored costume that’s easy to move in.
- Don’t choose costumes that obscure your child’s vision, or opt to only keep masks on for photos and parties. Makeup can be a great alternative, though the National Safety Council recommends always doing a skin test first.
- Cross the street at corners, crosswalks or designated crossings, and use extra caution by driveways.
- Trick-or-treat on streets with sidewalks, if possible.
One of the best things families can do to keep kids safe is always send out the youngest trick-or-treaters with a responsible adult. While older siblings can tag along and help out, don’t expect a teen to manage a party of candy-hunting kiddos.
Safe Kids recommends an adult chaperon for all kids under 12. If your older children are heading out without the grownups, be sure to go over safety ground rules:
- Kids should always stay in a group, sticking to well-known and well-lit streets.
- The group should have an itinerary—one where you can flag any pedestrian hazards, like areas without sidewalks or cross streets, ahead of time.
- Have a set time when the kids should come home. Some communities may even have curfews on trick-or-treating, so know the neighborhood rules before your tweens and young teens set out.
- Kids have their noses in their phones? TikTok nd text messages can wait. Remind them that their attention should be on their surroundings—and on having fun!
What happens if I am involved in an accident on Halloween?
Neighborhood accidents can happen any night of the year in Atlanta, but with the high volumes of pedestrians on Halloween night, they’re often more serious when they do occur.
If you’re involved in a crash on Halloween night, stop your car and check for injuries while calling 911.
If you’re a pedestrian and you’re hit, or if someone with you is involved in a pedestrian accident, do your best to stay calm. Adrenaline and shock may take over, preventing you from getting the medical care you need or taking the steps you’ll need to protect your legal interests:
- Move out of the street if you can, or help the injured person move.
- Call 911 or ask witnesses to do so. Halloween is often a busy night for law enforcement, so be sure to mention if you are obviously injured.
- Do not let the driver leave, even if you don’t believe you’re badly hurt. Cracked ribs, soft tissue injuries and concussions can sometimes not be obvious immediately after a crash. If you let the driver leave or fail to call the police, you won’t have a personal injury case.
- If the crash is a hit and run, try to get the make and model of the car, or the license plate number if you can. Witnesses may have a clearer memory of the event than you.
- When the police arrive, document the scene with photographs and take witness contact information. If this feels impossible to do yourself, ask someone for help.
- Get medical care. Even if you just feel sore or shaken up, it’s smart to get an examination day-of. If your emergency care means you’ve missed your chance to speak with the police, Bloomberg.com recommends asking to review and correct the accident report.
- Call a pedestrian accident lawyer. You’ll want to speak to an attorney who specializes in pedestrian accidents in Atlanta.
If you witness a pedestrian car accident on Halloween, help the victim. Move the person to safety, call the police and wait with them. You’ll also want to encourage them to go to the doctor and call an attorney. Unfortunately, not everyone understands their rights—this is your chance to help.
Other Halloween safety tips
While cars pose the largest danger for most kids on Halloween, it’s smart to go over other safety basics and take precautions yourself. While choosing light colored, high-visibility costumes, also make sure there are no serious tripping hazards, like long skirt or capes.
The littlest pumpkins may have more fun heading out early, when it’s still almost light, to avoid driveway spills and uneven sidewalks. Remind kids from an early age never to enter other houses or cars. And yes, the old scary Halloween advice still applies: Teach kids to hold off on the candy until an adult can look it over.
If you’re welcoming trick-or-treaters to your home, keep the driveway or path well lit. Jack-o’-lanterns with real candles shouldn’t be in areas where kids might bump into them or brush by with trailing costumes.
Contact an Atlanta pedestrian car accident lawyer
Halloween is a great time of year to get outside, show off your family’s creativity and have fun. But when accidents happen, it’s important to get the help you need. If you’re involved in a Halloween car accident or a pedestrian accident, seek medical attention and call an accident attorney. Contact the Georgia personal injury attorneys at Litner + Deganian for a free consultation.