Halloween is a holiday that is supposed to be scary, but as costumed children hit the roads for treats, safety should be a top priority to ensure no true horrors occur.
Between the hours of 4 p.m. and midnight on Halloween is the deadliest night of the year, says Sharon Berlin, research analyst at AAA. Pedestrian deaths are very high that night, and in 72 percent of deaths, alcohol is a factor, as not just kids are often out celebrating.
A recent AAA study found that the risk of severe injury to a pedestrian is twice as likely if they are hit by a car driving 35 mph compared to 25 mph. "A small difference in speed can make a big difference in saving lives," says Berlin.
Below are some tips for children and parents to ensure that this year's festivities are fun and not frightening.
Trick or treaters
With children of all ages walking along and crossing the street, it's important to make sure children and parents know how to stay aware and safe.
- Parents should accompany children if they are younger than 12-years old.
- Children should walk -- not run -- from house to house.
- Children should stay on sidewalks instead of walking between cars or on lawns where ornaments or wires can be tripping hazards.
- Remind children to look for cars backing out or entering when walking by a driveway.
- Cross streets at corners with traffic signals and crosswalks.
- Don't assume the right of way as motorists may not see you.
- Consider a costume that is a lighter color and more visible to motorists. Add reflective material front and back. Make sure costumes don't obstruct vision or drape down too long to trip them up.
- Give your kids a flashlight so they can be seen by drivers. Glow sticks can further aid visibility.
Drivers, also, need to be extra vigilant and focused on the road.
- Slow down when driving around neighborhoods and residential streets. Assume children are around and assume they don't see you.
- Do not drink and drive.
- Watch for children who may dart out into the street and yield to pedestrians.
- If you are driving children around for trick or treating, make sure they are buckled up appropriately with a child safety seat or vehicle seatbelt. Do this each and every time they enter the car, and check before driving to the next stop.
- Pull over to safe locations to let children exit curb side, away from traffic. Use your hazard lights to alert other drivers of not only your car, but to exercise caution. Especially on Halloween, they will be extra wary for children as a result.
- Try to park in a spot where you won't need to back up, but if you must, have an adult outside to make sure no children are in the way.
- As you should every day, don't use a cell phone or other mobile device while driving. Pull over safely to check voice messages, or texts, as needed.
By being cautious and safety minded this Halloween, you can make sure the holiday is a treat for all. And if you're driving kids to gather their sweets, demand at least one Baby Ruth an hour.