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Distracted Driving - Mitigating the Most Likely Halloween Risk

October 31st, 2013

Today at work, employees and leaders alike will work hard to control risk exposure on the job. Hazard identification training will take place, new risks will be identified and barriers to safety excellence removed. The vast majority of these same individuals will leave at the end of their day to return home to go trick-or-treating with family members, or stay home to hand out candy. We are increasing our ability to identify hazards and control risks on the job, how well are we doing with Halloween?

My earliest memories of the joys of Halloween are also coupled with the horror stories of apples with needles in them, pixie sticks with PCP (Phencyclidine) or cyanide, child predators, and blades in lollipops. Many of these were myths, but there were truths as well. In 1964, a woman in Long Island, New York, frustrated with the increasing age of trick-or treaters, handed out items containing steel wool, dog biscuits and ant buttons. Thankfully she was prosecuted. In Detroit the same year, lye-filled gum made the news, along with rat-poison as treats in Philadelphia.

Today these stories persist and a new risk has emerged as the top danger of Halloween, distracted driving. According to the article, “Halloween is ‘Deadliest Day’ Of The Year For Pedestrian Fatalities” ( some concerning details were revealed based on an analysis of more than four million records in the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) from 1990 – 2010 for children 0-18 years of age on October 31.

  • “Halloween Was Deadliest Day of the Year for Child Pedestrian Accidents
  • Nearly one-fourth of accidents occurred from 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. Over 60% of the accidents occurred in the 4-hour period from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m.”
  • Over 70% of the accidents occurred away from an intersection or crosswalk.
  • Most of the fatalities occurred with children ages 12-15 (32% of all child fatalities), followed by children ages 5-8 (23%).
  • Young drivers ages 15-25 accounted for nearly one-third of all fatal accidents involving child pedestrians on Halloween.”

Several sources recommend the following tips to help keep children safe this Halloween from the most likely risk:

  1. If wearing a mask, make sure it doesn’t limit vision
  2. Wear bright enough clothing or reflective items and carry a flashlight – and turn it on!
  3. Make sure clothing or costume accessories do not limit mobility
  4. Cross at crosswalks and intersections, not in the middle of the street
  5. Trick-or-Treat in larger groups to increase visibility
  6. If you need to drive, take a cab if consuming alcoholic beverages or are tired
  7. Do not operate a phone while driving (Teen age drivers more prone to distracted driving)

During this work day, please take time to discuss this risk and prevention options. Share these facts and tips with your work colleagues and most importantly, your family. Francis Bacon once said, “Knowledge is power.” Give the power to those you care about, to help them mitigate the most likely risk they will encounter this Halloween, distracted driving.

- Shawn M. Galloway

Shawn M. Galloway is the President of ProAct Safety and the coauthor of two books, his latest published Feb 2013 by Wiley is STEPS to Safety Culture Excellence. As an internationally recognized safety excellence expert, he has helped hundreds of organizations within every major industry to achieve and sustain excellence in performance and culture.  He has been listed in this year’s National Safety Council Top 40 Rising Stars, EHS Today Magazine’s 50 People Who Most Influenced EHS and ISHN Magazine’s POWER 101 – Leaders of the EHS World and again in the recent, elite list of Up and Coming Thought Leaders. In addition to the books, Shawn has authored over 300 podcasts, 100 articles and 80 videos on the subject of safety excellence in culture and performance.

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