Did you know that Halloween is the deadliest day of the year for children who are pedestrians? On this day, more than twice as many children are killed in pedestrian car crashes between the hours of 4 and 10 PM than on any other day throughout the year at the same time? Drivers between the ages of 15-25 accounted for nearly one-third of all fatal crashes involving child pedestrians on Halloween. (National Highway Safety Administration).
I am one of the few people I know who loved Halloween more than Christmas when it came to children. When I wanted to take my then 3 year old grandson, Michael, trick or treating for the first time, his mother was extremely reluctant because she said he would be scared and unwilling to approach the houses. Little did she know! He not only ran to the door when he realized candy was the reward, but nothing, and I mean nothing, deterred him, including barking dogs and a gang of tough looking older children running around the neighborhood with scary costumes. I had a hard time holding onto him, but I did because I knew from first-hand experience the lifesaving benefits of holding on tight.
It is a wonderful time of year and we want you and your family to enjoy it, safely. Below are a few tips for those who will be pedestrians and drivers:
• Wear bright clothes and carry lighted lanterns, flashlights or glow sticks.
• Load up every visible part of the anatomy with reflectors. Put them on the shoes too.
• Hold onto your child’s hand. They get excited and want to run across the street if they see their friends or a decorated house. Hang onto them for dear life.
• Put your cell phone in your pocket and don’t use it while you are walking or holding your child’s hand.
• Stay on sidewalks or paths whenever possible. Make sure you walk facing traffic and as far from the road as possible.
• Do not allow your child to dart in the road or cross between parked cars.
• Always try to cross in crosswalks. However, that does not mean you shouldn’t be on alert. Drivers will be looking at the costumes, and not necessarily at your children crossing the street. Or, they may be using their cell phone while driving. Shame.
• Make sure you and your children look every which way before you do cross the street.
• Wait for signals. They are there for a reason.
• Do not jaywalk. It could be dangerous.
• Do not try to beat a car (run across the street when you see a car coming). Wait for the car to first pass where you want to cross.
• Use a flashlight to show you are there.
• You might consider painting the masks on their faces. Masks can make it difficult for them to see.
• All drivers should stay off their cell phones, watch the intersections, and the rest of the street. Children may dart out in front of you, so go very slowly. Watch for children who may be jaywalking (despite our advice).
• If you are partying instead of trick or treating, stay sober or find another ride home.
• Do not under any circumstances drink, drug, and drive. I don’t care if you do think you drive more carefully when stoned. You don’t.
• Make sure you have eliminated any possible distractions inside your car so you can focus on your driving and the area around you.
• Drive with your headlights on even if it isn’t dark. It makes you more visible.
• Drive more slowly and more cautious than normal especially in neighborhoods where children may be treating.
• The best time for children to trick or treat is between the hours of 5:30 to 9:30 so be on guard during that time.
• Wait behind other vehicles that are pulled over. They may be dropping off a group of children.
• Always warn your children that they are not to get into the car of anyone they do not already know well. Give them a cell phone to use in case of an emergency. Make sure the attending adult has one too.
• We all know the other tips about razors in the apples (actually found one once), etc. However, now that states are legalizing marijuana, be especially cautious of anything that isn’t pre-wrapped and hard. People can do some very stupid things.
Stay safe—because we care.