Holiday season safety awareness begins at Halloween

Halloween is the start of a very busy holiday season that will see many of us taking to the roads. While many of us make extra trips during the holidays, safety should be top of mind.

When driving, always be on the lookout for pedestrians. No time is more important, though, than during Halloween. With children out after dark, and often wearing dark costumes that limit their vision and challenge ours, drivers must be extra vigilant.

Halloween is one of the deadliest days of the year for pedestrians. Pedestrian fatalities occur at a 43 percent higher rate on Halloween than on non-holidays, according to a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association that looked at 42 years of data.

Drivers and pedestrians need to do their part to make sure this fun holiday is a safe one. The tips below are from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Safety Tips for Trick-or-Treaters

  • Parents should accompany children younger than 12 years old.
  • Children should walk — not run — from house to house.
  • Children should stay on sidewalks.
  • Parents should remind children to look for cars when crossing driveways.
  • Go trick-or-treating before it is truly dark, especially with young children.
  • Parents and children should consider choosing costumes that are lighter in color, and add reflective material to the front and back, which makes it easier for drivers to see them.
  • Avoid costumes that make it more difficult for a child to see.
  • Give children a flashlight or glow stick to walk with in the dark so they can be more easily seen by drivers.

Safety Tips for Drivers

  • Drive slowly in and around neighborhoods and on residential streets.
  • Don’t drink and drive. Drunk driving incidents increase on Halloween.
  • Watch for children who may dart out into the street, and always yield to pedestrians.
  • If you see one child trying to cross the street, there are likely more ready to cross.
  • If you are driving children around for trick-or-treating, make sure they’re buckled up appropriately in a child car seat or with a seat belt.
  • Pull over at safe locations to let children exit at the curb and away from traffic. Use your hazard lights to alert other drivers of your car.
  • Try to park in a spot where you won’t need to back up. But if you must, have an adult outside to make sure no children are in the way of your vehicle when you do.
  • Don’t use a cellphone or other mobile device while driving.

As soon as the last little ghost or goblin comes by your house, it is time to start focusing on the winter holidays. November and December can be especially stressful due to all the extra errands: trips to the grocery store, venturing to the mall to buy gifts, and going to all the holiday parties and festivities.

It may be impossible to eliminate all these extra trips, but with a little planning you can combine some of your shopping trips and pare down your travel time. Taking time to plan your grocery needs for that turkey dinner or holiday party can keep you from having to make a return trip to the store a day or two later for that extra half cup of milk, extra flour or a bottle of wine.

Try carpooling with friends for holiday shopping to reduce driving and make it easier to find parking spaces. Sharing a ride is a great way to cut down on the holiday stress while spending some quality time with friends.

As the holidays loom, it is never too early to think about being safe on the roads and how to avoid those extra trips.