Halloween alert: Distracted driving surges during peak trick-or-treating hours
Perhaps the scariest thing you’ll see on Halloween night isn’t Chucky or Freddy, but a distracted driver.
According to a new CMT analysis, distracted driving surges during the peak hours of trick-or-treating, from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm. On a typical day in October, drivers spend 2 minutes and 29 seconds per hour driving distracted in the evening. On Halloween, that time jumps to 2 minutes and 37 seconds, a 5.6% increase.
Halloween sees slightly elevated levels of distraction from 12:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m., averaging a 1.8% increase compared to other October days. At 3:00 p.m., distraction levels on Halloween are equal to other days.
The divergence in distraction patterns begins at 5:00 p.m. when Halloween sees 4.3% higher distraction. Distracted driving peaks at 8:00 p.m. on Halloween, reaching 2 minutes and 45 seconds per hour, compared to 2 minutes and 36 seconds on a regular day.
It’s normal to see distracted driving fluctuate and increase throughout the day. On a normal October day, distraction rises by 10% in the evening (5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.) compared to the afternoon (12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.). But on Halloween, the impact is more pronounced. The difference between evening and afternoon distraction is 15%.
The trends in distraction follow similar patterns on both Halloween and other days. After its 8:00 p.m. peak, distraction starts to fall consistently. However, distracted driving on Halloween at 10:00 p.m. is still higher than the most distracted hour on other October days. In fact, from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. on Halloween, every hour sees more distracted driving than the highest levels on other days in October.
To conduct this analysis, CMT compared hour-by-hour screen interaction data — when drivers tap on their phone while the car is traveling over 10 mph — on Halloween to other similar days of the week in October. For example, for 2022 we compared Halloween, which fell on a Monday, to other Mondays in October. We analyzed data from 2021 and 2022, including data from over 2 million trips. All the data is based on the trip’s start time in the local timezone.
Distracted driving isn’t the only driving metric that increases on Halloween. People are taking more trips as well, like driving their kids to hot trick-or-treating spots or hitting up Halloween parties. Like our distraction analysis, we compared the number of trips on Halloween to other days in October. We looked at the difference in the number of trips on Halloween.
Overall, Halloween consistently has more trips throughout the day. And, similar to distracted driving, the difference in trips surges in the evening. That said, the difference starts later in the evening. Whereas distracted driving diverges from typical patterns at 5:00 p.m., the number of trips people take doesn’t change dramatically until 7:00 p.m. when there are 19% more trips.
The biggest difference in trips on Halloween happens at 8:00 p.m., which also sees the highest levels of distracted driving — drivers take 41% more trips at 8:00 p.m. and are 5.8% more distracted. It should go without saying that this is an incredibly dangerous combination.
Increases in distracted driving on holidays are common. CMT has reported on the increases for Easter, Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day. Each of these days has higher levels of travel than other days, either to see family or go on vacation, leading to more distraction, crashes, and road tragedies. The difference with Halloween is that it’s like every other day of the week, just with festivities in the evening, which accounts for the surge in distraction after 5:00 p.m.
So, if you go trick-or-treating with your kids, be alert, and make sure you make eye contact with drivers as you cross the street to ensure they see you.
And if you drive, no matter what day it is, put down your phone and focus on the road.