Drivers: Take special care for child pedestrians this Halloween

According to the CDC, kids are four times more likely to be hit by a car on Halloween than on any other day of the year.

That's shocking, but there are several factors that contribute to the danger. For one thing, trick-or-treating begins around sundown, toward the end of rush hour. The change in light and the busy driving time add to the risk.

Second, kids are notorious for being unpredictable around traffic, and that could be even more the case on Halloween. It's an exciting atmosphere that feels kid-friendly. Costumed friends and classmates may be just across a busy street. All too often, kids dart out into the road.

Third, Halloween isn't just a holiday for kids. Plenty of adults will be enjoying the revelry, and many of them will be drinking. Or, they could also be wearing costumes that restrict their vision or freedom of movement.

All of that adds up to dangerous conditions for little ghosts and goblins. This year, let's work together to prevent any tragedies.

Parents and kids

You can help prevent a tragic pedestrian accident by making sure your kids are as visible as possible and encouraging them be safe pedestrians:

  • Ensure your kids' costumes don't interfere with their vision or movement. Avoid face masks, if possible.
  • Equip each child with reflective tape and a flashlight or glow sticks.
  • Arrange a trick-or-treating group led by an adult or an older, more responsible child.
  • Review traffic safety rules before kids head out. Tell them to stay on the sidewalk and, if there is no sidewalk, to walk on the left side of the road, facing traffic. Explain that they should cross the street only at the corner, never mid-block. Remind them to look both ways and listen for traffic before crossing.
  • Establish a familiar route for trick-or-treating and a time they need to be home.

Motorists

The first thing drivers need to do is adjust your thinking. Halloween is not an ordinary Thursday, so you'll need to take extra precautions:

  • As soon as you enter a neighborhood, slow down. Drive at least 5 mph slower than the speed limit to give yourself extra time to react if a child steps into the street.
  • Even if it's still light out, turn on your headlights for visibility.
  • Maintain an active watch for children. Locate every child on the street and track their movements to avoid surprises. Scan yards and porches as well as roadways, sidewalks, medians and curbs. Keep in mind that they may be in dark costumes that make them harder to spot.
  • Pay special attention to the possibility that kids do break traffic laws. Keep an eye on parked cars, as kids may enter the roadway between them.
  • Take extra care when entering a driveway or alleyway.
  • If you must back up, walk out to the curb behind your car and look for kids that could be coming.
  • If you're headed out for a Halloween party, take off any facial accessories before you drive and avoid any distractions.
  • If you will be drinking, be sure to arrange a sober ride home. Designate a sober driver, be ready to call a Lyft or a cab, or know your public transportation route. Don't drive when you feel tipsy or buzzed -- and remember that even mild impairment is especially dangerous on Halloween night.

Halloween can be one of the most fun days of the year - but not if a child gets hit by a car. We all have a role to play in keeping trick-or-treaters safe, so do your part.

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