AAA urges motorists to stay alert on Halloween

AAA urges motorists to stay alert on Halloween
Halloween will once again bring spooky vampires, giggling princesses and favorite superheroes trick-or-treating on neighborhood streets. Halloween is one of the most festive nights of the year for children, but it also ranks among the most dangerous.

"Halloween is a fun time for children, but the excitement of the night can easily cause children to forget about their safety," said Cheri Cihak, AAA South Dakota spokesperson. "Therefore it's up to motorists to slow down and watch carefully for any children that are out trick-or-treating. Extra caution will help to ensure that kids make it home safely this Halloween."

Children's risk of unintentional injuries greatly rises on Halloween, making it important for motorists to drive carefully and stay alert. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports Halloween is consistently one of the top three days for pedestrian injuries and fatalities. In addition, a study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), estimates that children are four times more likely to be hit by a motor vehicle on Halloween than any other day of the year.

To help reduce the risk for children during the Halloween holiday, AAA suggests these basic safety rules for motorists:

? Watch carefully for children crossing the street. Children may not be paying attention to traffic and might cross midblock or between parked cars. Scan far ahead in traffic to watch for children and try to anticipate their actions.

? Watch your speed. Slow down as you drive through neighborhood areas, preferably five mph less than the posted speed limit.

? Watch for children in dark clothing. Children may be difficult to see if they are wearing dark costumes or masks.

? Pay attention to all traffic signs, signals and markings.

AAA suggests these basic safety rules for parents and their children:

? Costumes should be kept simple, easy to walk in and made of light-colored material with retro-reflective strips along the hem and borders.

? Increase your child's ability to see by encouraging makeup instead of bulky masks. Trick-or-treat in groups and carry flashlights.

? Costume props such as guns or swords should be made of Styrofoam, cardboard or flexible rubber so they won't hurt kids if they trip and fall. Regular shoes, not clown boots or high-heels, make good sense.

? An adult or older teen should accompany the younger kids to make sure they visit only safe neighborhoods, watch out for traffic and travel only well-lighted streets.

? Always walk, don't run. Cross the street only at the corner and if there are no sidewalks, walk along the far left side of the roadway facing traffic.

? Daylight Savings Time ends on Sunday, Oct. 30 this year, so dusk will arrive an hour earlier on Halloween. It's a good idea to start trick-or-treating a little earlier, too.

AAA South Dakota offers complimentary trick-or-treating bags, posters and envelope stuffers. For more information, or to receive these free materials, contact your local AAA South Dakota office.

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