Halloween is an exciting time when most children and teens are thinking about costumes, parties, and how much candy they will get. Adults may also be excited about the parties they will attend; parties where alcohol will be served and consumed. However, the most important thing to think about this Halloween is pedestrian safety.
Halloween, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), is one of the deadliest nights of the year because there are more drunk drivers and pedestrians on the road. Forty-eight percent of fatal crashes in 2012 (latest available statistics) involved drunk drivers. This compares with 31 percent on the average day that year. Further, the NHTSA reports that fatal crashes involving drunk drivers occur three times more often on Halloween than on New Year's Eve.
Couple the inexperience and/or distraction of young people and adults out trick-or-treating with the increase in drunk drivers, and you have the potential for disaster.
Although alcohol was not involved in this 2014 accident, distraction was. A 2-year-old boy was hit and killed by a bus on Halloween in Lake Wales, FL, about 50 miles south of Orlando. According to The Associated Press, the boy got out of his stroller when the man pushing it across the street went to retrieve a dropped cell phone.
Here are some Halloween tips from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and SafeKids.org :
- Slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods. Children are excited on Halloween and may move in unpredictable ways.
- Take extra time to look for children at intersections, on medians and on curbs.
- Enter and exit driveways and alleys slowly and carefully.
- Eliminate any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.
- Drive slowly; anticipate heavy pedestrian traffic, and turn your headlights on earlier in the day to spot children from greater distances.
- Popular trick-or-treating hours are 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. so be especially alert for children during those hours.
- Be bright at night; Wear retro-reflective tape on costumes and treat buckets to improve visibility to motorists and others.
- Wear disguises that do not obstruct vision, and avoid facemasks. Instead, use nontoxic face paint. Also, watch the length of billowy costumes to help avoid tripping.
- Ensure any props are flexible and blunt-tipped to avoid injury from tripping or horseplay.
- Carry a flashlight containing fresh batteries, and place it facedown in the treat bucket to free up one hand. Never shine it into the eyes of oncoming drivers.
- Stay on sidewalks and avoid walking in streets if possible.
- If there are no sidewalks, walk on the left side of the road, facing traffic.
- Look both ways and listen for traffic before crossing the street.
- Cross streets only at the corner, and never cross between parked vehicles or mid-block.
- Trick-or-treat in a group if someone older cannot go with you.
- Examine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before eating them.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics:
- To keep homes safe for visiting trick-or-treaters, homeowners should remove from the porch and front yard anything a child could trip over such as garden hoses, toys, bikes and lawn decorations.
- Homeowners should check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs.
- Restrain pets so they do not inadvertently jump on or bite a trick-or-treater.
MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers) recommends that adults "Don't just dress like a Superhero this Halloween, become a Superhero by volunteering to be the non-drinking designated driver."
Because children tend to focus on the excitement of Halloween and forget about safety, it is up to motorists, parents and caregivers, and homeowners to make sure children have a safe and happy Halloween.
"We at Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A., wish everyone a happy and safe Halloween," said Fort Myers Personal Injury Attorney, Randall Spivey.