Halloween is the deadliest holiday for U.S. pedestrians, no matter which day it falls

If you decided to move your celebrations to a weekday, you may want to reconsider

Halloween may not be the deadliest holiday for U.S. drivers, but it remains the worst for those who have reason to travel on foot. While the same factors that contribute to other deadly U.S. holidays can also impact Halloween safety, the abundance of trick-or-treaters makes for an especially sticky situation. 

It may seem like common sense that a holiday many children spend roaming the streets after sunset would occasionally end badly, but actually has the data to back it up. And while recent Sunday Halloweens have been some of the most deadly for car crashes, it remains one of the safer choices for pedestrians to be out and about. So, if you're thinking about doing your Halloween on a day besides the 31st, there are some things you should consider. 

Overall Halloween road fatalities

"To determine the deadliest day of the week for Halloween, we looked at the number of fatal crashes that fell on a Halloween day compared to that day on average. So, Tuesday Halloween fatal crashes versus the number of fatal crashes on an average Tuesday," the study authors said. 

The authors found that Friday is the most dangerous night for Halloween, with 21.86% more fatal crashes compared to the average Friday. The safest night for Halloweens is Saturday, with 4.34% fewer fatal crashes compared to the average Saturday. Sunday Halloweens came in third deadliest, with 15.60% more fatal crashes than the average. 

"Halloweens that fall between Monday and Friday see an average increase in fatal crashes of 16.30% compared to the average fatal crashes on the same, non-Halloween days. Halloweens that fall on Saturday and Sunday see a rise of just 5.30% in fatal crashes compared to the average fatal crashes on a regular Saturday or Sunday."

Here's the full list, sorted from deadliest to safest:

  • Friday: +21.86%
  • Tuesday: +18.01%
  • Sunday: +15.60%
  • Thursday: +15.51%
  • Monday: +13.89%
  • Wednesday: +8.42%
  • Saturday: -4.34%

Pedestrians and children

Based on the above, moving your Halloween festivities to a Saturday night seems like a no-brainer, right? Maybe not. The above accounts for all fatal road crashes. If your primary concern is pedestrian safety, Sunday is actually one of the safer options. If you compare Halloweens that fell on weekends to those on weekdays, the trends favor the weekend. The percentage of pedestrians killed in fatal accidents on Saturday or Sunday Halloweens was 26.67%, vs. 28.84% Monday-Friday.

"Both are high and neither is great," the authors said. "Weekends still prove to be safer, however, for pedestrians on Halloween night." Plus, Halloween's influence on the statistics is pretty clear: "On an average day, the percentage of accidents involving pedestrians is 15.18%; on Halloween night, that figure increases to 28.48%," they said. And if you think weekdays may be safer for kids because fewer adults are partying, the data don't support that theory:

"While you might think that weekends would be the worst culprit here, the data shows that weekdays (Monday-Friday) comprise eight out of the worst 10 spots with an average of 18.78% of traffic deaths being children. Saturday and Sunday Halloween nights see just 11.92% of traffic deaths being children," the authors said.

Should you switch?

While the statistics may not be overwhelmingly in favor of Sunday, it's among the safer choices for your kids. If you have adult plans or just need to be on the road, Saturday is a moderately safer option, but probably not worth re-arranging your schedule for. And if safety is really your concern, avoid Monday-Friday altogether. 

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