By Matthew Sanderson
Whether it’s dressing up in your favorite costume, trick-or-treating or attending a Halloween party, Halloween always results in a dramatic increase in pedestrian and vehicle traffic, reports the Los Angeles Police Department.
Unfortunately, Halloween has the distinction of having the highest number of child pedestrian deaths each year, and ranks among the worst for holiday-related driving under the influence traffic collisions and deaths.
The California Office of Traffic Safety and LAPD are providing important safety tips and prevention education to ensure a fun and safe Halloween.
“OTS is strongly encouraging partygoers, parents and children to stay alert and safe this Halloween,” said Chris Cochran, assistant director of the Office of Traffic Safety. “If people aren’t responsible while out trick-or-treating or celebrating, it could turn into a real-life scary story.”
In California, Halloween pedestrian deaths are double the average with more than half involving alcohol or drugs. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2011, 44 percent of all highway fatalities nationwide during the Halloween period involved a driver with a blood alcohol concentration at or above the legal limit of .08 percent.
In an effort to keep the streets of Studio City and greater Los Angeles safe on Halloween, the LAPD will have officers conducting traffic enforcement throughout the day, focusing on speed, right of way and pedestrian violations.
“Watch for children and adults walking on roadways, medians and in dark costumes – they'll be harder to see at night,” said Cochran. “Be aware that trick-or-treaters may not be paying attention to traffic and may run out mid-block or between parked cars. Motorists should scan far ahead when driving in residential areas, watch for people and cautiously monitor their actions.”
This Halloween, motorists, partygoers and hosts should take the following tips into consideration when planning their celebrations:
- Designate a sober driver or a sober friend to drive you home. Also, save the number of a cab company in your phone before heading out for the night.
- Avoid driving through residential areas where trick-or-treaters are likely to be present.
- Turn on your headlights to make yourself more visible – even in daylight.
- Obey all traffic signs, signals and laws. The risk of killing a pedestrian increases even with just a small increase in speed. A pedestrian is nearly twice as likely to be killed when hit by a car going 30 miles per hour (mph) compared to one traveling at 25 mph.
- Party hosts should offer non-alcoholic drinks and plenty of food for their guests. Another great idea is to have designated drivers available for your guests. Remember, hosts should never allow a guest to leave the party drunk and drive away from your party.
- Plan the route ahead of time, try and aim for well-lit streets, avoid high traffic areas and busy streets.
- Choose costumes that make it easy for your kids to walk and be seen by drivers - light colored costumes are the best choice.
- For darker-colored costumes, use retro-reflective tape to help make your child well-seen by drivers. Be creative in applying the tape to make it fun and easy to be seen.
- Masks can sometimes obstruct a child’s path of vision, so make sure that when crossing the street they remove it or consider using makeup instead of a mask for added safety.
- It’s best to trick-or-treat when it’s still light outside, but if you find yourselves out after dark carry a flashlight so that trick-or-treaters can see and so that drivers can see them.
- Don’t run! Always walk and make sure the kids do too.
- Cross only at corners and never cross between parked cars or in the middle of a block.
- Wait until you get home to sort, check and eat treats. Even if you’re not behind the wheel, it is still important to remember to remain alert when near roads and busy areas.
- Remember, even if you see a car, they may not be able to see you or your child until it’s too late.
Funding for the enforcement details is provided by OTS through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Report drunk drivers by calling 911.