Visibility is top safety check for Halloween

Take precautions, such as wearing reflective strips or glow lights, to be seen by drivers in the dark of Halloween night.

Media Contact: Susan Gregg -, 206-390-3226

The risk of child pedestrians (ages 4-8) being killed in a traffic accident is ten times higher on Halloween, according to a 2019 study published in JAMA Pediatrics. Dr. Beth Ebel, a pediatrician and injury prevention expert at UW Medicine, stresses that the most important element of any Halloween costume is ensuring it’s visible. 

“This is the fundamental issue is kids getting hit by cars in the dark of night,” said Ebel. “As you're planning costumes, think about ways to add lights to those costumes.” Other safety measures include:  

  • Placing reflective strips on costumes and candy bags 
  • Carrying glow sticks
  • Being mindful that the back of any costume also needs to be visible 

Ebel reminds parents that there’s also strength in numbers along the trick-or-treating route. 

“More kids together is always better,” said Ebel. “People pay attention to that larger group, and they slow down. It's much better than a couple of kids darting across the street.” 

She recommends that children under the age of 12 be accompanied by a parent while trick-or-treating, while older kids should only visit familiar areas in their groups. 

She also hopes to quell any fears some parents may have about their children’s candy, specifically over “rainbow fentanyl.” 

“It is a serious risk, but it really isn't a risk for Halloween,” said Ebel. “There is not evidence showing that it has been. But it is a risk for kids in general, especially kids who are starting to get into a little bit of substance use.” 

Download broadcast-ready soundbites with Ebel on trick-or-treating safety. 

UW Medicine