Drive Safely - Keep Halloween from Being Scary

Consumer Reports News: October 30, 2008 12:19 AM

With Halloween falling on a Friday this year, it’s safe to say trick-or-treaters of all ages will be staying out even later that usual. These costumed creatures of the night are often draped in dark clothing, dressed more for scares than visibility. Taking extra care for both pedestrians and drivers is important for the neighborhood. After all, not only are the injury risks greater on Halloween, chances are you may know the victim or driver. (Watch our video on the dangers of driving at dusk.)

Scary statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) show that fatal collisions between motor vehicles and young pedestrians occur most frequently between 4 and 8 p.m. year round – prime trick-or-treating hours on Halloween. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the number of deaths among young pedestrians (ages 5-14) is four times higher on Halloween evening than any other evening of the year.

Take your time when driving and be alert. Better yet, if you don’t need to drive, so much the better. Put off that errand for another day.

Here are some more tips to improve your safety this Halloween:

Driving:

  • As always, be aware of school buses. Children may be distracted by their costumes and/or wearing masks that limit their vision.
  • Don’t use a cell phone while driving.
  • Stay below the posted speed limit in residential areas.
  • Wet leaves can be as slippery as ice; watch out for wet patches on the road.
  • Keep a vigilant eye out for kids who may dart out into traffic. In fact, you should expect it.
  • Try to park in a spot where you won’t need to back up; but if you must, have an adult outside the car to watch for wee ghouls.
  • Be extra careful pulling in and out of driveways.
  • If you’re attending an adult Halloween party, designate a driver. Two-thirds of highway fatalities on Halloween are alcohol-related.
  • Don’t wear that scary mask while you’re driving!

Trick or treating:

  • Be sure your children are escorted by a responsible adult.
  • Help drivers see kids by putting reflective tape (available in hardware and sporting goods stores) on their costumes and treat bags. Have them carry flashlights and glowsticks.
  • Make sure children know how to cross a street safely: before entering the crosswalk, look left, right, and left again before crossing the street.
  • Always cross inside crosswalks when available. According to the USDOT, 84 percent of deaths of young pedestrians happen at non-intersection locations.
  • Remind kids not to run out between parked cars.
  • Walk on sidewalks or on the far edge of the road facing traffic.
  • Make sure costumes and shoes fit properly to avoid falls. If wearing a mask, make sure it fits securely and has large eye holes. Better yet, wear makeup to avoid obscured vision.
  • Remind children to walk (not run!) as they make their rounds ringing doorbells.
  • Remind children to look for cars before walking in front of a driveway.
  • Buckle up all children in their car seats or seat belts even if you’re making short trips from house to house.

Recommended Halloween reading:
See the additional Halloween tips on our Safety blog, including ways to keep cats and dogs safe. Learn the safest way to carve a pumpkin. And if you need to whip up a last-minute costume, see our Home blog for DIY ideas.

Happy Halloween!

—Desiree Calamari


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