As Halloween approaches, you may be making special preparations so that your children are safe as they go trick or treating, but they aren’t the only ones who need to be careful at this time of the year.

As a pedestrian your risk of being involved in an unpleasant encounter with an automobile, bicycle or motorcycle increases in the fall. Wherever you live (and there are studies from different places in North America and even Australia), it’s confirmed. The risk is increased even more in the early morning and evening hours.

There’s all sorts of speculation as to why. Perhaps it’s related to the longer periods of darkness. Supporting this hypothesis is the fact that the increased risk persists into the winter.

So please be extra careful not just with your children at Halloween but at any time you are out walking — and especially when it’s dark. I can tell you from my own experience as an emergency room doctor that while not all accidents are the pedestrians’ fault, a lot are caused by otherwise sensible people darting out between parked cars or in the middle of streets — especially when it’s dark, raining or when there are other factors which affect the driver’s ability to see you. Play it safe! Keep your eyes open all the time! Look both ways before and while you are crossing, not submerged in your phone — and make certain that you are easy to see.

Dr. Mitch Shulman is an Assistant Professor, Dept. of Surgery, McGill Medical School and an Attending Physician, Emergency Department, McGill University Health Centre. He’s also the CJAD AM 800 Medical Consultant.

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