Christmas tends to bring out the kid in me, but Halloween comes a close second.
Watching my kids get excited for the ‘big night’, helping Sherry put together their costumes and watching them decide on ways to scare each other; it’s great fun.
But it also brings out the personal injury lawyer in me, and what’s not so great is the danger inherent in children running around the streets at night, wearing costumes that may obscure their vision a little, at best, or make them hard to spot on their high-speed sugar rush, at worst.
Here are some basic tips, from both the driver and the pedestrian perspectives, on how to keep safe this Halloween night
Before The Big Night
You can do a lot to prepare for a safe Halloween in advance:
- Choose a costume that has white, or light colours, or even better if it has reflective tape on it. If you just can’t figure out how to add tape to a zombie costume without wrecking, make sure the treat bag has some. Other options include glow sticks and flashlights.
- Make sure the costume doesn’t include a facemask that obscures your child’s vision in any way. They need to be able to see peripherally, to check for cars, particularly if they are heading out on their own or with friends. Even if you’re with them, they can scamper away in two shakes of a ghost tail, so make sure they can see.
- If you are going with your kids, make sure you wear something bright and highly visible too. This is partly for the cars, and partly for when your kids lose sight of you. If they can spot you in a crowd, they won’t panic and run across the street to find you.
Driver Safety On Halloween
My best tip here is to avoid driving after dark altogether, if you can. It’s just not worth the risk of a small child, in their over excitement, dashing across the street or out from between two parked cars.
However, if you do have to be out and about on October 31st, keep these in mind:
- Take it slow — Speed is a major problem on our roadways, at the best of times. On Halloween night, you need to take it down even further. Particularly on side roads or heavily family focused neighbourhoods, you want to make sure you slow down so that you can see any ghoul coming, from any which direction.
- Come to complete stops — No doubt you do this the rest of the time, but it’s even more important on a busy night like Halloween. A full stop will give you the time to see if there is anyone crossing who might not be totally visible.
- No distractions — Now is not the time to take up the habit of eating dinner at the wheel of your car. You need to be extra vigilant, because while that little wee witch is carrying a broom, it doesn’t actually fly, and she might not get out of your way if you don’t see her in time.
- Full headlight package — If you’re driving an old car, even at the earliest part of the sunset, put on your headlights. The trick-or-treaters will be able to see you better, and since the early visitors tend to be younger, it’s important that their parents can see you too.
Pedestrian Safety On Halloween
When darkness falls, the begging begins: “Can we go NOW?” As excited as your kids might be about hitting the houses in your neighbourhood for reams of goodies and treats, take the time to make sure everyone has these safety tips top of mind:
- Walk in groups — it’s much easier for a driver to spot even the smallest child if they are in a larger group. And be aware of your surroundings. Lots of people decorate their lawns for Halloween: you don’t want to be tripping over a grave marker and into the path of an oncoming car.
- Cross the street properly, at intersections — the easiest way to make sure your kids do this is to do one side of a street and then cross at an intersection before starting in on the other side. Zipping back and forth across the street, throughout a block, is an invitation to an accident.
- Tip for parents — you need to be alert throughout the whole outing, so skip the glass of wine until after the tricks are done and treats are put away in a high cupboard.
While some of these tips might seem obvious, here’s something to note: in 2010, Halloween weekend was when the highest number of impaired driving accidents were recorded. Even more than any of the long weekends or the Christmas holiday period. In 2011, Halloween weekend dropped to third most impaired driving accidents.
So no matter how scary you look this Halloween, dressed as a vampire or an ax murderer, remember to stay safe!