Halloween is just around the corner! Heck, if you live in a town that shifts trick-or-treating to the weekend, it might even be tomorrow!
For some of you, that means heading out your front door and bugging your neighbors for candy. For others, that means driving to a safe or candy-rich environment nearby and bugging someone else’s neighbors.
Either way, there’s one thing guaranteed on Halloween: lots of pedestrian traffic. With that, unfortunately, comes a spike in motor vehicle accidents.
The National Safety Council reported that there were 3,700 motor vehicle deaths in October of last year. That’s enough to make it the second most deadly month of 2017. And Safe Kids.org says that children are twice as likely to be killed by a motor vehicle on Halloween. It’s a sad statistic, but one that we can help reduce with a bit of technology and a lot of common sense.
For Your Kids
Halloween night is second only to Christmas in my house, with excitement levels to match. It’s important you take a second to help ensure that your kids are safe and keeping safety in mind.
1. Reflective/Light Up Costuming
If your child’s costume doesn’t have reflective bits, then add some on their shoes or hands with reflective tape. A reusable alternative is LED slap bracelets. I particularly like these because they can be set to flash and they’re much brighter than the glow bracelets a lot of kids wear for trick-or-treating. I use them when I’m running at night.
2. Know What You Can’t See
Especially if your kids (or you) are sporting a mask, be aware of how much a costume limits peripheral vision. Run through the procedure for crossing the street before your kids leave the house:
- Lift the mask off your face.
- Look both ways.
- Don’t put the mask back on until you’re safely on the other side.
There are lots of reasons parents follow behind their kids in cars instead of walking the neighborhood with them, but the fact is, it makes trick-or-treating and driving challenging for everyone. Here are a few simple rules to make sure everyone stays safe.
3. Use Your Cameras, Check Your Corners
Manufacturers have gone far beyond simple backup cameras. Chevrolet sent me a Traverse tricked out with the latest safety features to demonstrate how far they’ve come. Being a much larger vehicle than the Chevy Bolt, I really appreciated the pedestrian and cross-traffic warning zones. It let me see what was coming way before a person or crossing vehicle had moved into my field of vision. When the vehicle detects movement, it will audibly alert you and flash a warning symbol on the rear-vision view. Especially on a night when you’re likely to be surrounded by pedestrians, knowing what’s behind you and what’s about to be behind you is very important.
But even then, never rely solely on a rearview camera when backing up. Use your mirrors and verify visually that there’s no one in your blind spot.
4. Put Away Your Phone
Honestly, this should be the only tip on this list. Every year, I see parents and guardians checking their texts or posting costume pics to Facebook as they back out or roll slowly behind their kids down the street. While modern vehicles like the Traverse can come equipped with pedestrian detection and auto-braking, it’s no substitute for simply paying attention to what’s in front of you while the car is moving.
Many Chevy vehicles also come with an absolutely brilliant feature—a phone hideaway. There’s a USB port hidden behind the infotainment system in a cubby just big enough to fit your smartphone. Raise the touchscreen, plug in your phone, and lower the screen. The latest systems are compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, so you’ll still have plenty of functionality and you won’t be tempted to poke at your phone. If you really need to take pictures while you drive, bring a camera!
5. Buckle Up
It’s tempting, especially if your kids are continuously jumping out of the car, to forgo seatbelts. You might be driving slow, but you’re still operating a vehicle that can accelerate very fast (even if it is unintentional). Also, if I had to choose between two cars full of kids ramped up on sugar and adrenaline, and in one they were wearing seatbelts and in the other, they weren’t, I know which I’d pick. Every. Single. Time.
Halloween is a blast, but it can easily turn tragic when you mix motor vehicles and pedestrians. Stay smart, be vigilant, use your cameras (both the ones on your car and not on your phone), and have fun trick-or-treating!
Disclosure: Chevy sent me a vehicle to test out their latest safety features. Opinions (and common sense, check your corners people) are my own.