Staying safe can be tricky for children going through neighborhoods in search of treats — unless they stay aware of possible traffic dangers on the streets, said a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension expert.
“This time of year, the days are beginning to get shorter, and with shorter days comes more low-light and nighttime driving,” said Bev Kellner, AgriLife Extension passenger safety program manager, College Station.
Kellner said nighttime driving requires extra attention from both motorists and pedestrians.
More than 70% of all fatal pedestrian incidents occur in low light conditions, and nearly 50% of fatal bicycle crashes occur in low-light or dark conditions, according to NHTSA.
“There are also increased instances of drunken driving on Halloween,” she noted. “The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reporting 42% of those killed in traffic crashes on Halloween night from 2013 to 2017 died in crashes involving a drunk driver.”
Kellner said the large number of young pedestrians on the streets Halloween evening makes this an especially dangerous time, but motorists, parents and children can take some safety measures to make it less daunting.
Some safety tips for motorists include:
• Slowing down in neighborhoods and watching for children on roads, medians and curbs.
• Taking extra precautions when entering or exiting driveways.
• Being alert to children possibly darting out from between cars or behind bushes or shrubs.
• If attending a party where alcohol is to be served, designate a driver.
Tips for parents include:
• Having an adult accompany children at all times to supervise their activities.
• Reminding children to stop, look and listen before crossing streets.
• Taking a flashlight and having your child wear reflective strips or patches on their clothing or costume to be more visible.
• Be certain children’s masks do not impair their vision or hearing.
• Ensuring costumes do not impede the ability to walk or drive.
Tips for pedestrians include:
• Before crossing a street, stop at the curb or edge of the road and look left, right and then left again before crossing.
• Walk, don’t run, from house to house or across the street.
• Cross streets only at intersections and crosswalks, then obey any traffic signals and watch out for turning cars.
• Walk on sidewalks whenever possible. If there are no sidewalks, walk on the left side of the street facing traffic.
“Many people are also choosing to have in-home Halloween parties for children or Halloween parties in schools or community centers in order to increase child safety,” Kellner said. “But if you’re doing Halloween the old-fashioned way by door-to-door trick or treating, taking some extra time and making sure everyone obeys the rules of the road and remains vigilant can make Halloween reasonably safe.”