On Halloween, we don’t just have ghosts and goblins to worry about. As motorists, we also need to look out for pedestrians.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that Halloween is consistently one of the top three days for pedestrian injuries and fatalities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that children are four times more likely to be struck by a motor vehicle on Halloween than any other day of the year.
Excited trick-or-treaters can sometimes forget to look both ways when they cross the street, so it’s up to motorists and parents to be extra cautious.
A couple of tips for motorists from AAA:
• Slow down in residential neighborhoods and obey all traffic signs and signals. Drive at least 5 mph below the posted speed limit to give yourself extra time to react to children who may dart into the street.
• Watch for children walking on roadways, medians, and curbs. In dark costumes, they’ll be even more difficult to see at night.
• Look for children crossing the street. They may not be paying attention to traffic and cross the street mid-block or between parked cars.
• Carefully enter and exit driveways and alleys.
• Turn on your headlights to make yourself more visible.
Halloween is a good time to remind everyone about general pedestrian safety. There are many city streets without sidewalks all over Arkansas, so we often see pedestrians walking and running alongside motor vehicles.
I often see cases – some involving fatalities – that could have been avoided if people followed traffic laws.
Things to keep in mind when you are driving:
Be alert. Look out for pedestrians at all times. When you are operating a vehicle, you have undertaken a responsibility for other people on the road. Remain vigilant at all times.
Watch your speed. It is very important to follow posted speed limits at all times, especially in areas where pedestrians frequently walk or run. At times like Halloween when you know there will be more pedestrians than usual, reduce your speed.
Make sure your headlights are on, particularly in the dark, bad weather, and poorly lit areas. Without your lights on, it’s more difficult for pedestrians and other motorists to see you. This time of year, the daylight is getting increasingly shorter, so it’s important to make yourself visible.
Be careful when driving in reverse. It’s very easy for a pedestrian to not realize a car is backing up. Be especially vigilant when driving in reverse. Many vehicles have back-up cameras that show what’s behind you, but remember to use your mirrors and look around too.
Be mindful when approaching crosswalks. Motorists must yield to pedestrians at crosswalks, so reduce your speed and prepare to stop.
As a reminder for everyone, pedestrians should walk and run against traffic, while cyclists need to ride with the flow of traffic. Pedestrians can do their part by wearing bright or reflective clothing. If you’re walking and listening to headphones, talking on the phone or texting, be extra vigilant of traffic nearby.
This Halloween and always, it’s important to be mindful of your surroundings whether you’re a pedestrian or motorist. Be safe and Happy Halloween!
Sarah Jewell is an attorney with Hare Wynn Newell & Newton, a law firm with offices in Fayetteville and Little Rock.