As a law firm, we see a noticeable spike in pedestrian collision accidents around this time of year. These are the kind of cases where somebody is walking on the street and they get hit by a car or some other sort of motor vehicle.
What explains the spike is anybody’s guess. But, it would make sense that near the end of October we get less daylight, making visibility more difficult for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians alike. We also have some drearier weather which can lead to visibility issues as well. And who can forget the Halloween Holiday, whereby residential streets are flooded with trick-or-treaters in full-blown costume.
There are a lot of young parents who read our blogs; therefore I want to share with you some of our law firm’s top tips on how to keep Halloween safe when you’re outside trick-or-treating this holiday season.
- Hoods are DANGEROUS. Although really cool, really fashionable, uber-popular and somewhat warm, beware of wearing the hood of a hoodie or sweatshirt. When they’re on your head, you have ZERO peripheral vision. You won’t be able to see or properly detect oncoming traffic and any dangers approaching from the side. You have tunnel vision limited straight ahead of you on account of the hood. You will also have difficulty making eye contact with a motorist to determine whether or not it’s safe to cross. Hood = cool, but dangerous.
- Don’t walk and text. It’s still amazes me how many pedestrians I see walking in both urban and suburban settings with their heads down, walking, totally zoned in on their smart phones without any appreciation for what’s going on around them. It doesn’t matter if it’s downtown Greenville or a quaint street in Simpsonville; people are glued to their phones and completely oblivious to any oncoming hazards. Street lights, stop signs, end of the sidewalk are all tossed aside in favor of contents on the smartphone. Trust me: Snap Chat can wait.
- Consider face paint instead of a mask for little ones. With masks, your children may have the same peripheral vision problem as wearing a hood. Face paint more than likely will not impact your child’s peripheral vision. Perhaps it’s a bit messier, but it can also be more fun as well.
- Reflectors aren’t just for bikes anymore. What’s good for a bike at night is also good for your young trick-or-treater. Reflective gear, mini flashing lights, even glow sticks all work to increase your child’s visibility when they are out in the evening trick-or-treating. Some shoes even have reflectors built-in. You can buy flashing lights for shoes at your local bike store or running store as well! These are all fun ideas which will also improve the safety of your children. The more you improve a child’s visibility, the better.
- Dark costumes are cool and can be scary, but they aren’t safe. The better your child’s visibility for drivers and other pedestrians a like the better.
- Be on the lookout for costumes that can get stuck in things such as doors, bike chains, and your child’s own feet. Think of trick-or-treating as a long hike. Would you dress your children in long flowing costume which presents a tripping hazard for a nature walk? Probably not. So don’t do the same for Halloween.
- The buddy system works! In addition to having parent supervision for trick-or-treating, match your kids up with a “buddy” and make sure that they are with their “buddy” at all times during the candy hunt. Don’t let anyone go off alone. It’s a recipe for disaster.
- Start early. End early. Get in as much daylight as possible, because we’re losing it fast. The darker the conditions, the lower the visibility; and the greater chance that motorists can’t see you or your children out when they’re trick-or-treating.
- Stop it with the creep clown outfits, people. It can only be described as a monstrously dumb trend, as full grown adults are hiding near roads and on highways in an attempt to scare motorists. Stop it. People have been arrested all over the country to being public nuisances on roadways and trespass as they attempt to get their thrills by “thrilling” others.
- While we are on the subject of trespassing, be very careful when coming on others’ properties. Although you may come on the property as an invitee to participate in the holiday activities, you can quickly become a trespasser if you wander onto parts of people’s property where you don’t have permission to go.
- Last and not least, please do not permit your teenage children to mess up or damage people’s mailboxes. First, the mailbox is federal property. Second, malicious injury to personal property is a serious criminal offense. It’s certainly an arrest-able offense, so unless you want to spend your Halloween at the Greenville County Detention Center, I’d advise you all to leave people’s mailboxes alone.
Whether you’re celebrating at a Halloween party or by trick-or-treating with your kids, these common sense precautions will help everyone have a safe evening of (enjoyable) tricks and treats!