Pumpkin carving contest aims to keep teens safe on Halloween night

Local News

SALEM, Va. (WFXR) – A joint partnership is encouraging the youth of Virginia to make good choices and to celebrate responsibly with the statewide Halloween Safety Campaign and Pumpkin Carving Contest.

The campaign is presented by Youth of Virginia Speak Out About Traffic Safety (YOVASO), Virginia State Police (VSP), Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles Highway Safety Office and State Farm will focus on preventing a tragedy on what is supposed to be a fun night for kids.

While the peer-to-peer campaign traditionally involves activities planned through school and youth group programs, this year, students will participate from home.

YOVASO is taking the campaign virtual with the #ProtectYourPumpkin Pumpkin Carving Contest. The only requirement to participate is to include a safety message and “YOVASO” in the design. When complete, tag @_yovaso_ on social media with the hashtag #ProtectYourPumpkin.

Those who do not have a social media account can still submit their entry to YOVASO by completing an online form which can be found by clicking here.

Anyone is welcome to participate, but only those age 11-20 are eligible for prizes. Entries are due by Oct. 31, 2020, at 12 a.m.

YOVASO will choose 10 pumpkins for public voting on Nov. 2-4, 2020. Five entries with the most votes will each get a $25 Amazon Gift Card.

Schools and youth groups planning to participate in trunk-or-treats or other Halloween safety events may request activity books, safety banners, and posters with the message: Staying Safe is the Trick, Having Fun is the Treat. Buckle Up, Be Seen, and Make Good Choices.

Nationwide, between 2014 and 2018, there were 145 drunk-driving deaths on Halloween night. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 41-percent of everyone killed in motor vehicle crashes on Halloween night during that period involved a drunk driver.

YOVASO has also compiled a list of safety tips for teens to follow this Halloween:

  • Avoid driving during “Halloween Rush Hour” from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. when children are trick-or-treating.
  • Drive below the speed limit in residential neighborhoods and use alternate routes when possible.
  • Scan ahead for trick-or-treaters and yield to pedestrians.
  • Use caution around stopped vehicles in neighborhoods and proceed slowly.
  • Drive distraction-free.
  • Celebrate responsibly and resist any peer pressure to celebrate Halloween with alcohol and/or drugs or to drive while impaired – it’s illegal.
  • Do not ride with any drivers who may have used drugs and/or alcohol.
  • Be on alert for drivers who could be under the influence of something other than sweets.
  • Remember to always buckle up.

For those trick-or-treating, be sure to follow these guidelines:

  • Avoid distractions and leave electronic devices at home while walking or biking.
  • Wear reflective clothing.
  • Carry a flashlight or glow stick.
  • Walk on sidewalks when possible.
  • Only trick-or-treat in well-lit neighborhoods.
  • Older students should always travel in pairs or large groups and let parents know when you are going.
  • Younger students should always trick-or-treat with a parent or guardian.
  • Never approach a stranger’s car.
  • Make good decisions and avoid any mischief that could ruin a fun night.
  • Stay alert and Be Seen on Halloween in case motorists are not watching out for you.

For more information about the Pumpkin Carving Contest and for additional safety tips, click here.

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