SALEM, Va. (WFXR) – Halloween is a favorite time of year for many, but there can be dangers associated with the holiday, especially when it comes to road and pedestrian safety.
“Anytime you get a large number of people out trick or treating or in the roadways, there’s always the chance of an occurrence, whether it’s somebody being struck or just anything going; mischief of any type,” says Sgt. Rick Garletts, Public Informations Officer for the Virginia State Police.
According to Safe Kids Worldwide, children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than on any other day of the year.
Youth of Virginia Speak Out About Traffic Safety (YOVASO) is joining with the Virginia State Police (VSP) and the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles Highway Safety Office in a statewide Halloween Safety Campaign to encourage youth and teens to make good choices, celebrate responsibly, and prevent a tragedy on what is supposed to be a fun-filled night.
All week, schools and youth groups across the Commonwealth are participating in the peer-to-peer campaign by organizing programs and activities to promote safe and responsible celebrations for Halloween. Participating schools will be displaying Halloween safety banners and posters with the message: “Driving Safely is the Trick, Getting Home Safely is the Treat. Buckle Up, Celebrate Without Drugs or Alcohol.” They will also be distributing pledge cards, flashlight key chains, and making announcements before and after school to promote a safe Halloween.
The campaign also provides an opportunity for high school students to talk with students at their local preschool, elementary and middle schools about trick-or-treat safety and being safe pedestrians on Halloween night. The message for younger students will be on buckling up, being seen while trick or treating, and making good choices.
YOVASO staff say irresponsible driving behaviors such as underage drinking and driving as well as texting and driving can be even more deadly on Halloween night when young children are out trick-or-treating on neighborhood streets. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, between 2012 and 2016, there were 168 drunk-driving fatalities on Halloween night (6 p.m. Oct. 31 to 5:59 a.m. Nov. 1). Approximately 44% of all fatalities on Halloween night were crashes involving a drunk driver.
“Be careful out there. Not only the trick-or-treaters but the drivers. Be aware of your surroundings. Put down the cell phones. Put the seat belts on. Let’s pay attention to the roadways especially when people are walking around,” says Sgt. Garletts.
Here Are Some Suggested Safety Tips for Teens to Follow for a safe Halloween:
- Avoid driving during “Halloween Rush Hour” from 5:30-9 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 alcohol and/or drugs.
- Be on the alert for drivers who could be under the influence of something other than sweets.
- Remember to always buckle up.
Safety Tips for Youth to Follow for a Fun and Safe Halloween:
- 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 where you are going.
- Younger students should always trick or treat with a parent or adult supervision.
- 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.
Additionally, if parents are concerned about sex offenders in the area, Virginia State Police encourage parents to check the sex offender registry on their website here.