An average of almost 30 pedestrians annually are killed each Halloween, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration records. That's almost triple the number of pedestrian fatalities that happen on the average day on American roads.
Overall, Halloween ranks as the third-deadliest day overall for pedestrians, according to the NHTSA analysis, which examined a quarter-century's worth of data to determine the most dangerous days. The study found 715 pedestrian deaths that occurred on Oct. 31 between 1978 and 2002. Halloween trails only December 23 (753 deaths) and January 1 (751 deaths) for the dubious title of most dangerous day on the calendar.
Your car can also disappear, never to be seen again. The National Crime Information Center declared Halloween to be the busiest holiday for car thieves, according to vehicle theft data complied by the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
Overall, 2,328 vehicles were stolen on Halloween in 2011, the last year for which data is available. New Year's Day is the worst official holiday, but with 2,286 thefts, it's still slightly safer than Halloween.
Why is Halloween so popular for car thieves? Often drivers leave their cars in unfamiliar locations for long periods of time. And between parties, costumes, kids and candy, drivers are often distracted and make simple mistakes which lead to car thefts.
Car vandalism is neither a trick nor a treat either, but the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says cars are, on average, twice as likely to be vandalized on October 31 – sometimes even with slashed tires and broken windows.
The report says that between 2008 and 2012, there were an average of 1,253 insurance claims for vehicle vandalism on Halloween night, compared with just 692 claims for an average day. Though significantly lower than Halloween, the Fourth of July and New Year's Day were also above average in terms of vandal strikes. Conversely, Christmas and Thanksgiving were major holidays that rated below average for vandalism.
The most important part of Halloween is keeping trick-or-treating kids safe. The Center for Disease Control found that children are four times more likely to be struck by a motor vehicle on Halloween. Here's a few tips for both parents and motorists for keeping kids safe this October 31.
For trick or treaters:
Stick together. AAA recommends parents accompany trick-or-treaters until the age of 12. And groups of children are easier for motorists to spot than lone children.
Cross at the crosswalk. Remind children never to cross the road mid-block or between parked cars. Studies show nearly three-quarters of pedestrian deaths occur at places other than the crosswalk.
Check costumes. Make sure masks don't obstruct your child's vision, adjust the length of costumes to avoid tripping and add reflective materials or tape to make kids visible. Don't wear costumes that are all dark.
Avoid shortcuts. Especially through neighborhoods: If possible, avoid driving through residential streets where it's likely there will be lots of trick-or-treaters present.
Be extra careful. Watch for children on darker streets, medians and curbs. Excited trick-or-treaters may not pay necessary attention to traffic and cross the road in unexpected places.
Right-side exit. Driving your children around on Halloween? Make sure they exit and enter the car on the passenger side of the vehicle.