Baltimore County Now
Baltimore County Public Safety Information Specialist
Halloween is the time of year when children dressed as monsters, superheroes, animals and the like set out to frighten and delight neighbors, friends and family while collecting as much candy as they can possibly carry.
Although these trick-or-treaters are far too cute to scare us adults, Halloween can be a terrifying night for parents. Why? Because Halloween, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, is the second-deadliest day of the year for pedestrians.
With the threat of vehicles driving too fast, parents should follow these simple steps to protect their little ones while they enjoy their Halloween fun:
- Trick-or-treat while there is still daylight. The sun goes down at 6:08 p.m., and a 5 p.m. start gives the little ghouls and goblins plenty of time to gather treats from the neighborhood. Walking in the dark is dangerous and places your child, and others, in harm’s way.
- It is best to stay within your neighborhood. Remind trick-or-treaters to go to only homes where the porch light is on.
- Provide children with flashlights or other non-flammable light sources so they can see and be seen while walking.
- Tell your kids to walk on the sidewalk. If there are no walkways, stay as close to the curb as possible.
- Many costumes are dark and difficult to see at night. If you’re going to be out after sunset, make it easier for drivers to see trick-or-treaters by applying reflective tape to dark costumes. Use your imagination when placing the tape. If you do it right, children won’t mind wearing it. However, if there is dissension in the ranks, explain to them that the tape will help them avoid being hit by a car or other vehicle.
- Costumes are very personal to some children. Many work on them for days. Kids tend to go for the “cool factor” over safety features, so if a costume includes a mask, ensure that the eyes are large enough to see through, or encourage the use of makeup.
- It goes without saying that parents should walk with their children. It keeps them safe from traffic problems and unwanted overtures from older kids looking for a little mischief. You don’t have to look like a chaperone – make it fun by dressing up, too.
- Be a role model when it comes to obeying pedestrian traffic laws. Cross only at a crosswalk, and only when the light gives you the go-ahead.
- Motorists who are out on Halloween night also should also take responsibility. Speeding through a neighborhood, failure to stop at a stop sign and running red lights increase the odds for a tragedy. Drive as though you lived in the neighborhood. Drive as though your children and their friends were out trick-or-treating.
- Of course, we encourage adults to check little ones’ goodie bags when they get home. If any treat looks suspicious, toss it away.
More useful information on pedestrian safety can be found online at the Baltimore Metropolitan Council’s Street Smart Campaign.
Lieutenant Stephen Troutman
Support Operations Division, Crash Team
Baltimore County Police Department
As the leader of Baltimore County’s Crash Investigation Team, I see a lot of pain and suffering that simply didn’t have to happen. Possibly the most frustrating and heart-wrenching part of my job is responding to crashes involving pedestrians. This year alone there have already been 17 people who have died in pedestrian crashes in Baltimore County and pedestrian error was the cause in a majority of the cases.
On May 30th, I was interviewed on the cable program, “Hello Baltimore County.” I talked about this increase in fatal pedestrian crashes and offered some advice on how to avoid becoming a victim. Off the air, I mentioned to the show host that during the month-long airing of the show, we would surely have additional pedestrian crash fatalities. Such was the case on 6/14/2013 when a young child stepped in front of a motorist and was killed. On 7/20/2013, we experienced yet another pedestrian crash fatality on the east side of the County involving an adult.
Unfortunately there is usually no rhyme or reason to the crashes. The fatalities range from young children to older adults and occur in all areas of Baltimore County, from the interstates to low speed rural roadways and neighborhood streets.
One constant theme, however, is pedestrian error. I cannot emphasize enough the need to use caution and pay attention when walking on the roads. You need to realize that you are no match for a 3,000 pound vehicle and must follow some simple but critical basics:
- Use crosswalks and obey traffic signals.
- Don’t be distracted by cell phones and musical devices.
- At night, leave the dark clothing at home.
- Don’t take unnecessary chances.
- Driving drunk is dangerous and so is walking while inebriated. “Arrive Alive” and “It can wait” counts for pedestrians too – call a cab instead.
- Take in your surroundings and don’t be in a hurry to cross a busy road.