The High Risk for Pedestrian Accidents Involving Children at Halloween
In two weeks, children all across Indiana and Illinois will be celebrating Halloween in the traditional American style: with costumes and masks, bags for candy and treats, and excited treks down neighborhood streets and through apartment buildings and condo complexes, ringing doorbells to the cries of “trick or treat!”
Parents will be along for the fun, some walking with their kids near to home and others driving packs of goblins, ghosts, Star Wars characters, and zombies to parts of town famous for their generous candy offerings. There will be festivals and parties, too. School-sponsored events as well as Haunted Houses will all be inviting children and teenagers to come and enjoy Halloween 2015.
For those still deciding on what to do this Halloween, a few suggestions (check out lots more here):
- European Market’s Pumpkin Palooza in Chesterton, Indiana on Oct 31, 2015
- Trick or Treat the Downtown in Chesterton & Porter, Indiana on Oct 30, 2015
- House of Trepidation Safe Trick or Treating in Indianapolis, Indiana on October 31, 2015
And remember that many communities here in Indiana have designated Trick of Treat times, and parents should check the website of their local community or town for more information.
The Danger of Child Pedestrian Accidents On Halloween
Children walking or running or playing near busy streets is always a concern. However, during Halloween the dangers increase substantially — not only are children manuevering alongside roads and streets at dusk or after dark, they may be dressed in ways that make them hard to see for even the most vigilant Halloween driver.
Added to this mix is the excitement shared by all the kids, which can make them less concerned and careful about nearby traffic. Kids are going to be jaywalking on Halloween. We all know that’s going to happen. Kids are going to be running and goofing around and not paying attention to cars and traffic. Ditto.
Pedestrian accidents happen when a person on foot is hit by a motor vehicle. Sometimes, the car is moving at a low rate of speed, like backing out of a parking lot at the school carnival, and there is no serious injury. In other situations, vehicles are moving at a faster speed, and the child or teenager hit in a pedestrian accident suffers serious bodily harm.
Indiana and Illinois police departments as well as federal agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) work hard each year in safety campaigns that promote public awareness of the special pedestrian dangers that come with celebrating Halloween each year.
Tips To Protect Kids From Being Hit By a Car While Trick or Treating
From several sites, we have built the following list of safety tips to help parents and teachers keep kids safe from being hit in traffic this Halloween:
Halloween Costumes and Pedestrian Accidents
It’s important that drivers are able to see kids in costume on dark streets where there may not be overhead streetlights and the car’s headlights are the only light being provided to the driver.
1. Costumes need to be at a length that the child will not easily trip on the hem.
2. Costumes need to have reflective tape if the fabric is a dark color.
3. Costumes need to be made of a light colored material.
4. Consider face paint instead of masks.
5. Consider a half mask instead of a full head mask (one that covers only the eye area).
6. Make sure each child carries with them their name, parent’s name, phone number, and address.
7. Have kids under the age of 12 go trick or treating with a supervising adult.
8. Have older kids travel in a group.
9. Make sure all the children have a set time to be back home.
10. Make sure the kids have access to a cellphone while trick or treating.
Instructions for the Kids to Protect Against Your Child Getting Hit by a Car on Halloween
1. Don’t run between houses, walk.
2. Carry a flashlight.
3. Know their designated area where they will be trick or treating (their apartment complex; their neighborhood down to the main thoroughfare; etc.) where they know the streets and roadways.
4. Never go outside their targeted “treating” area without their supervising adult’s okay.
5. Don’t ride bicycles at night in costume.
6. Cross at the intersection, not at the middle of the street.
7. Obey all traffic signs and signals.
8. Don’t enter the street by walking between parked cars.
9. Don’t run or play in the streets even if they seem safe and empty.
10. Be alert for cars and trucks and know that these drivers may not be able to see them.
Tips for Drivers On Halloween and How to Avoid a Child Pedestrian Accident
1. Be aware of what evening and night is the date for celebrating Halloween (it’s on a Saturday this year).
2. Turn on your lights at dusk, even if you don’t need them to see clearly, because it may help excited kids see your vehicle.
3. Obey all traffic signs and signals.
4. Enter any residential area carefully, on the lookout for trick or treaters.
5. Drive slow on Halloween, starting before dusk.
6. Watch for children who may jaywalk into the street.
7. Be alert for kids who cross an intersection against the light.
8. Don’t consider it rude to hit that horn if need be — warning kids with a honk may be what’s needed to get their attention.
9. Recognize that a dark colored vehicle may be harder to see by excited kids than a light-colored car and drive accordingly.
10. If you can, avoid locations where there will be lots of trick or treaters and the risk of a child pedestrian accident. If that errand can wait till November 1st, maybe that’s best.
- Indiana State Police
- Illinois Department of Public Health
- American Association of Pediatrics
- Consumer Product Safety Commission
If Your Child Is Hit By a Car on Halloween, What Do You Do?
Accidents will happen and no matter how safe a parent may try to keep their child, there will be kids who are hurt in pedestrian accidents on Halloween this year. When a child is injured in a pedestrian accident, getting immediate emergency care must be the first priority (obviously).
However, taking photos or videos of the accident scene, gathering names and contact information of potential witnesses, documenting things like weather conditions and road conditions at the time can all be extremely helpful when it comes time to assess the incident and determine damages and liability.