Recently communities around the country have begun discussions on moving Halloween to a weekend night. On the surface, the idea makes a lot of sense. I’m the parent of three kids and believe me, when Halloween falls on a school night, the next morning is an absolutely horrible experience for both parents and kids!
The benefits to moving Halloween to a weekend—or more appropriately, moving the celebration of Halloween to a weekend—may seem like they outweigh the potential downfalls. Just off the top of my head we have:
- Not worrying about scrambling to eat dinner and get dressed up following a long day of school
- Not worrying about bath times and bedtimes (as much)
- Not worrying so much about work the next morning, or if you are like me, worrying about those that fall “sick” the day after Halloween
- Being able to relax the next day and not having to get ready for school
- Being able to have a party and not worry about work the next day
- Being able to have fun with your kids on one of my personal favorite holidays
Some cities already setup a more condensed “speed-dating” approach to trick-or-treating like parking lot parties with local businesses hosting and being involved, trunk-or-treat get-togethers and trick-or-treating on “Main Street” in some smaller communities. These are all good ideas when it comes to one very important aspect of Halloween and that is SAFETY!
Kids are already excited and running around all over the place in a hyper-sugar exposed state of mind. People are driving their kids around. It’s dark and sometimes bad weather. Kids are not dressed with visibility in mind. It can be a chaotic evening of events in some communities. For example, did you know that kids are twice as likely to be killed by a car while walking on Halloween night? It might be time to take a step back and look at the potential pitfalls of moving all this fun to a permanent weekend.
On an average Halloween night:
- 23% of pedestrian fatalities involve a drunk driver (NHTSA)
- 42% of all traffic fatalities result from a drunk driving-related crash (NHTSA)
- 64% of DUI deaths are from drivers aged 21-34 (NHTSA)
- Halloween is one of the top three drinking holidays for college freshmen (NIH)
Based on data from monitoring companies like SCRAM Systems, when Halloween falls on a weekend night, drinking violations increase nearly 80%. And those are people that 1) Should not be drinking in the first place, 2) Have already gotten in trouble for a drinking violation, and most troubling 3) Know they are going to get caught and seemingly are unconcerned about consequences.
Based on available data, if you were to move Halloween to a weekend, we could potentially be increasing the risk to our kids by as much as 50%. With about 30 people each year being killed by a drunk driver on Halloween, we could possibly see that number increase to as many as 45!
I work for Total Court Services where I already see firsthand what can happen to families on both sides of a drunk driving related crash. It is especially worse when there are children involved, injured, or killed. There are few things we can absolutely prevent when it comes to things like traffic fatalities and one of those is taking alcohol out of the equation. With responsible decision making, more options for safety and using some common sense, we can help reduce how alcohol impacts holidays.
There are a bunch of great reasons to move Halloween to a weekend night, but the most important argument as to why we shouldn’t—the safety of our kids—should outweigh all else. I say let’s relish in those rare years that Halloween falls on a weekend and enjoy it when it is, but let’s not tempt tragedy by inviting it every year!