All Hallows’ Eve is a time for youngsters to have some scary fun, but due to spiking U.S. traffic fatalities — particularly for pedestrians — sending your kids out to trick or treat this Halloween may be just plain scary. Final tallies for driving-related deaths last year reached 37,461, a nearly 6 percent increase over 2015, with pedestrians accounting for nearly 6,000 of those tragedies, a 9 percent upswing.
Related: Our 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Trunk-or-Treat Costume Is No Joke
Combine that with the fact that Halloween is traditionally considered the single deadliest day of the year for child pedestrians, doubling the daily average for the rest of a given year, and it’s enough to strike terror into the heart of any parent or caregiver — only not the fun, holiday-inspired sort. But you needn’t let your fears spoil your family’s good time; awareness and common sense go a long way toward keeping kids safe.
Here are 13 tips from nonprofit child-safety advocacy organization Safe Kids Worldwide for preventing trick-or-treating tragedies:
1. Cross streets at corners, obeying traffic signals and crosswalks. And always look left, right and left again when crossing, continuing to watch out as you cross.
2. Put electronic devices down and keep your head up, and walk — don’t run — across the street.
3. Teach children to make eye contact with drivers before crossing in front of cars.
4. Always walk on sidewalks or paths. Children should walk on direct routes with the fewest street crossings.
5. Watch for cars that are turning or backing up. Teach children to never dart out into the street or cross between parked cars.
6. Children younger than 12 should not be alone at night without adult supervision. If kids are mature enough to be out without supervision, they should stick to familiar areas that are well-lit and trick or treat in groups.
7. Decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers and, if possible, choose light colors. Choose face paint and makeup whenever possible instead of masks — which can obstruct a child’s vision — and make sure costumes don’t hang down so low they could cause a tripping hazard.
8. Have kids carry glow sticks or flashlights to help them see and be seen by drivers.
9. Drivers should slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods, particularly during the prime trick-or-treating hours of 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., and remember that children are excited on Halloween and may move in unpredictable ways.
10. Take extra time to look for kids at intersections, on medians and on curbs.
11. Enter and exit driveways and alleys slowly and carefully.
12. Eliminate any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings.
13. Drive slowly, anticipate heavy pedestrian traffic and turn your headlights on earlier in the day to spot children from greater distances.