Picture this: it’s Halloween night and you’re trick-or-treating with your kids on what begins as a perfect evening with family. Suddenly, tragedy strikes; you, or worse, your child, has been hit by a car.
Pedestrian accidents often occur on private roads, in driveways or in parking lots, and have a higher possibility of transpiring when it’s dark out. This means the majority of pedestrian-related car accidents occur after dark, making Halloween one of the scariest times of the year for your family.
While costumes, candy and things that go bump in the night are a few of the main focal points of the holiday, you need to consider a fourth component: safety.
Research from Protect America shows that 65% of parents don’t discuss Halloween safety with their kids, which presents a significant issue to the welfare of the 41.4 million trick-or-treaters who will be out and about in the dark this year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Pedestrian deaths in the U.S. have been on the rise, reaching 6,677 in 2018, continuing a decade-long upward trend, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. October is the second highest month for motor vehicle-related deaths and injuries, and Halloween is a big reason why.
Staying safe begins with being aware of your surroundings and alert to motorist activity at all times. Drivers cannot be relied upon to be observant of your whereabouts for a number of reasons.
Some drivers may have difficulty spotting pedestrians in the dark. Others may be coming from Halloween parties and under the influence of alcohol. Depending on your community, you may walk past alleyways while trick-or-treating, which are especially important to pay close attention to as motorists may appear quickly and stop abruptly.
These factors elevate the importance of being attentive and alert at all times.
Another essential safety practice is making yourself visible, which you can achieve by:
• Wearing reflective tape or vests
• Walking in well-lit areas whenever possible
• Wearing bright colors that are easily distinguishable in headlights
Staying visible to drivers and other pedestrians is the main goal, which means dark clothing or dark costumes should be avoided. However, if you or a family member already purchased a dark-colored Halloween costume, an easy solution to staying visible is to carry or wear glow sticks.
Perhaps the simplest method of keeping children out of harm’s way is by accompanying them to Halloween festivities. Frighteningly, Protect America found that 70% of parents do not go with their children as they trick-or-treat. This poses safety risks to children, especially accidents that involve motor vehicles. Unsupervised children have the potential to endanger themselves by playing or darting into roadways, which can lead to personal injury.
A simple rule of thumb for deciding whether to accompany your kids as they trick-or-treat is by observing their age. If your kids are younger than 12, many communities recommend they be accompanied by an adult.
Most townships and cities have trick-or-treating ordinances that establish times and age limits for trick-or-treaters, with some places going as far as punishing teenagers for trick-or-treating with misdemeanors or fines ranging from $100 to $500.
In contrast, it’s equally important for motorists to observe safe driving practices to minimize the risk of pedestrian accidents. Obeying speed limits, reducing speed as necessary, being courteous and mindful to pedestrians at all times and coming to a full stop at stops signs can help reduce the number of non-traffic motor vehicle accidents that occur on Halloween night.
If possible, drivers should also avoid residential areas expected to have heavy foot traffic on Halloween, including large neighborhoods.
Now picture this: It’s Halloween night and you have a fun, safe time trick-or-treating with your kids because you took the proper safety precautions that allowed you to have an enjoyable night and simultaneously avoid becoming a statistic.
Brian P. Strong is a personal injury and wrongful death attorney at KBG Injury Law, which has offices in York, Lancaster, Hanover, Gettysburg and West Shore.
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