Autumn is upon us. Here in our beautiful part of the state, it means Friday night football, MSU Racer football and some great times with family and friends. October 31st is a fun evening that kids and parents look forward to each year. The Roberts Law Office wants to remind all of us to be safe this Halloween.
Many communities have moved up the time for trick or treating from the time when I was a child. This enables younger children to make the rounds before the sun goes down. As children in their costumes take to our neighborhood streets, drivers will have plenty of reasons to take their eyes off the road.
Between the decorated homes and the trick or treaters, the risk for pedestrian collisions increases. Add the fact that the sun goes down earlier in the Fall and it’s a potentially dangerous potion. There are steps we can take to be safe on Halloween.
Unfortunately Halloween can be a Dangerous Time
According to the most recent Kentucky State Police data, October had the highest rate of fatal collisions in 2016. It was the 3rd highest month for all collisions in 2016. Alarmingly, there were a total of 10,047 collisions involving elementary school age children in 2016.
Data from 2015 indicates a similar trend. October 2015 had the highest traffic fatality rate and was the highest collision rate for the year.
Having handled pedestrian versus automobile crashes for more than 25 years, I can attest to the fact that automobile accidents with pedestrians often result in severe or catastrophic injuries to the pedestrians. A fun family evening full of laughter and memories can quickly turn horrific. In a matter of seconds, inattentive or distracted drivers can change the future of a child and his/her family. It doesn’t have to happen.
The Roberts law office would like to offer the following tips to help you enjoy your Halloween while helping to ensure everyone arrives home safely.
5 Tips for Safe Driving on Halloween
- Slow Down – As kids rush to fill up their bags, they will inevitably cross the street where you least expect it. This could be from between cars, from behind hedges and blind corners or other hard to see areas.
- Turn on Your Lights – Even if it is not yet dark. This helps you to see the trick or treaters who hopefully have something reflective on their costumes. In addition, it also helps the trick or treaters and their chaperones to see you.
- Ignore Your Cell Phone – Ignore your cell phone-Ignore Your Cell Phone – You may be tempted to take photos, send text messages or answer calls while driving. With all of the children in the area, resist the temptation to use your phone while driving. It is very dangerous and texting and driving is against the law.
- Wear Your Seat Belt – Even if you’re doing everything possible to drive safely, you’ll be sharing the road with other drivers. Some of these drivers are going to be distracted for the exact reasons we’ve outlined in this article.
- Approach Intersections and Crosswalks with Extreme Caution – A statistically high number of car wrecks happen at intersections. With all of the distractions, it’s quite possible that another driver may not see the red light or may be rushing to cross while the light is still yellow. While children can dart out from other areas as well, intersections and crosswalks are high pedestrian traffic areas as well.
5 Tips for Trick or Treaters and Chaperones
- Have a Chaperone – young children should not be alone at night without adult supervision. If kids are mature enough to be out without supervision, they should stick to familiar areas that are well lit and trick-or-treat in groups.
- Watch where You Walk – Whenever possible always walk on sidewalks. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible. Chaperones and kids without chaperones should make sure they cross the street at corners, obey any pedestrian crossing signals and use crosswalks. Always look left, right and left again when crossing and keep looking as you cross. Make eye contact with drivers before crossing in front of them.
- Ignore Your Cell Phone – Just as drivers should not engage in distracted driving, do not engage in distracted walking either. Put your cell phones down and look where you are going. I travel past Murray State University twice a day going to and from my office. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen students and older adults walk into the highway in front of me or other drivers all the while looking at their phones and not looking up to check for vehicles.
- Keep Costumes Safe – Decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers and, if possible, choose light colors. Use face paint and makeup whenever possible instead of masks, which can obstruct a child’s vision. Make sure the kids carry glow sticks or flashlights to help them see and be seen by drivers. Make sure the costume is the right size to prevent trips and falls.
- Check Your Child’s Candy – While tampering with candy is rare, every parent should check their child’s candy when you get home and before the child eats any. Parents should look for any unusual coloration or appearance, tears or pinholes in wrappers, and any items that are not commercially wrapped. Only allow your child to accept homemade items from people your personally know and trust. Remember, when in doubt, throw it out.
Friends, this is a terrific time of year. Many of you will take full advantage of the crisp evening weather. We hope you do. However, whether you are driving or out with your children on the 31st, the team at the Roberts Law Office hope you have fun but remember to be safe on Halloween.