Marine Corps Base Quantico, VA --
In the United States there are about 41 million potential trick-or-treaters between the ages of 5 and 14, according to the latest census data. That's a lot of kids out walking the streets at dusk getting their Halloween on.
As children take to the streets on Halloween, their risk of being injured by motorists increases greatly. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that Halloween is consistently one of the top three days for pedestrian injuries and fatalities, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that children are four times more likely to be struck by a motor vehicle on Halloween than any other day of the year.
Because excited trick-or-treaters often forget about safety, motorists and parents must be even more alert.
Here are some tips to help keep everyone safe on Halloween:
* Refrain from driving children door-to-door for trick or treating; enjoy the stroll together.
* Try to park in a spot where you won't need to back up.
* Watch for children walking on roadways, medians and curbs.
* Carefully enter and exit driveways and alleys.
* Discourage new inexperienced drivers from driving on Halloween.
* As you should every day, don't use a cell phone or other mobile device while driving.
* Slow down in residential neighborhoods and obey all traffic signs and signals.
* Drive at least 10 mph below the posted speed limit to give yourself extra time to react to children who may dart into the street.
* If partying, designate a sober driver in advance; consider an overnight stay.
* Avoid masks, which can obstruct vision
* Ensure an adult or older, responsible youth is available to supervise children under age 12.
* Plan and discuss an established and known route your trick-or-treaters will follow.
* Review trick-or-treating safety precautions, including pedestrian and traffic safety rules.
* Be bright at night - wear retro-reflective tape on costumes and treat buckets to improve visibility to motorists and others.
* Watch the length of billowy costumes to help avoid tripping.
* Never walk near lit candles or luminaries. Be sure to wear flame-resistant costumes.
* Wear disguises that don't obstruct vision, and avoid face masks. Instead, use nontoxic face paint.
* Ensure any props are flexible and blunt-tipped to avoid injury from tripping or horseplay.
* Carry a flashlight containing fresh batteries.
* If there are no sidewalks, walk on the left side of the road, facing traffic.
* Cross streets only at the corner, and never cross between parked vehicles or mid-block.
Information gathered by: David Luther, safety specialist, MCINCR - MCBQ