Along with shopping for just the right costume for the annual trick-or-treat outing, the AAA has some words of caution for parents to help keep their children safe this Halloween.
One of the deadliest nights of the year for pedestrians – especially children, Halloween is a time when motorists and parents accompanying kids need to be vigilant.
“On Halloween, drivers need to be especially vigilant between the hours of 4 p.m. and midnight, when pedestrians are most vulnerable,” said Sharon Gilmartin, AAA research analyst. “While trick-or-treating, children may not pay attention to traffic and might cross mid-block or between parked cars, making them even more difficult to see in the dark.”
MORE: See Safety Driving Tips For The Fall Season
Halloween is also a time when too many adults and young people go to costume parties and imbibe alcohol, contributing to potential tragedy on the roadways and city streets.
“Halloween has become an increasingly popular occasion for adults to host and attend parties where alcohol is frequently served. By designating a sober driver, or by choosing not to drink if driving, this holiday can remain a treat for everyone,” Gilmartin said.
By using common sense and following these safety tips, parents can help make this trick-or-treat season a memorable event – in a good way.
- Drive sober. Almost one-third of all motor vehicle deaths are caused by drivers impaired by alcohol. This results in an average of one fatality an hour (every 53 minutes). If planning to drink and drive, either before or after taking kids out to beg, designate a sober driver, cautions the AAA. Better tip is to forego alcohol completely on this particular day.
- Drive slow. As little as 10 mph slower can mean the difference between life and death. Statistics from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety show that a pedestrian hit by a car traveling 35 mph is twice as likely to be killed as a car going 25 mph. That means driving slower on city streets adjacent residential areas.
- Don’t take shortcuts through neighborhoods. Going the long way around may add a few minutes to your trip, but it’s likely to be a lot safer than zipping through residential neighborhoods en route to where you’re going. If you are planning a party at your home, give guests directions that avoid residential streets as much as possible.
- Be on the lookout for kids in the street. Clad often in dark costumes, maybe unaccompanied by an adult, trick-or-treaters alone or in groups frequently dart between parked cars, cross medians and congregate in the street to compare their goodies or discuss which houses to beg at next. Go extra slow on all residential streets, whether or not you see children about. It only takes a second to be too late when one suddenly appears in your headlights and you can’t brake in time.
- Go as a group. Solitary trick-or-treaters, especially under the age of 12, are a particular hazard. Parents should insist children travel in a group, accompanied by an appropriate number of parents or other adults.
- Plan the route. Ensuring the safest activity possible, parents should make a plan in advance, going over a specified route of travel. Before going out, remind the kids never to cross in the middle of the street or between cars parked at the curb.
- Inspect kids’ costumes. The idea is to avoid anything that will obstruct the child’s field of vision, such as masks or helmets and other head gear. Instead, opt for face paint to obtain a scary or costume effect. Also check the length of costumes so that children don’t trip when walking. Use reflective tape or material to help make them visible to drivers traveling through the area.
- If driving kids, be sure to buckle up. It’s too easy to become excited by the festive event and forget to buckle up in the vehicle. If you’re driving kids to and from trick-or-treating or from one neighborhood or street to another, take the time to ensure everyone is buckled up. Also, make sure that kids enter and exit the vehicle on the passenger side.