Traffic Safety and Pedestrians on Halloween and Other Holidays

As the holiday season is upon us, this is a good time to discuss the most common, specific situations that can result in danger to pedestrians. For instance, during the recent Halloween celebration, which typically consists of community-wide trick-or-treating and related events, pedestrians are at a particular risk for injuries due to traffic accidents. The combination of excited and impulsive children walking the streets, sometimes unsupervised, darkness, and traffic is not a good mix in terms of pedestrian safety. All too often, evenings such as these can result in unexpected tragedies.

Likewise, pedestrians can be at increased risk over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. The mixture of parties, alcohol, poor judgment, high levels of traffic, and in some areas of the country, winter weather, can be downright deadly. Bars tend to overflow with reunited relatives and old friends visiting home for the holidays, particularly on so-called “Thanksgiving Eve,” or the Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving, kicking off the most-traveled holiday of the year. The darker winter months and shorter days often mask pedestrians leaving bars, stores, and other familiar destinations, and leave them particularly vulnerable to traffic. Individuals also may dress in darker, less visible clothing during winter months. There tend to be more intoxicated drivers around the holiday season, which pose a further danger to pedestrians.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also has compiled data supporting the increased dangers to pedestrians – and other drivers – during the holiday season. More specifically, between 2001 and 2005, an average of 36 fatalities per day occurred as a result of crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver. During the Christmas season, however, an average of 45 fatalities per day occurred due to crashes with drunk drivers, and that number again rose dramatically to 54 fatalities per day during the New Year’s holiday.

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