CARS.COM — Whether out roaming the streets or at the movies, creepy clowns are the "it" thing this Halloween season when it comes to scaring people silly. But when it comes to ensuring the safety of trick-or-treaters, it's not some bozo in the sewer you need to worry about — it's cars on the road.
Halloween should be a ghoulishly good time, but the frightening fact is that it's considered the single most dangerous day of the year for child pedestrians. Children age 5 to 14 are between two and four times more likely to be struck and killed by a car compared with the nightly average for a given year.
Unsurprisingly, the deadliest hours are from 4 to 10 p.m., when trick-or-treaters are out in full force — too often paying more attention to their costume or candy than watching their step around traffic.
With U.S. traffic fatalities spiking in recent years — particularly those involving pedestrians — this Halloween is no time for parents to let their guard down.
Here are some things to keep in mind to ensure this Halloween is a treat, not a tragedy:
- Trick-or-treaters younger than 12 should be accompanied by an adult.
- Always use sidewalks or designated walking paths, and only cross at corners, keeping close watch for cars and obeying signals at crosswalks.
- Affix reflective tape to kids' costumes, opt for more visible light-colored costumes and have trick-or-treaters carry a flashlight or glowstick, all to ensure they can be seen by passing cars.
- Choose face paint or at least avoid masks that obstruct a child's vision; likewise, avoid costumes that hang low near the feet, posing a tripping hazard.
- Slow down and exercise extreme caution in residential areas, as kids are impulsive and prone to making sudden, unexpected moves.
- Be sure your headlights are on.
- Don't assume trick-or-treaters see your car coming.
- Minimize distractions - seriously, you should always do this, but maybe make a special effort on this night.
Another suggestion for safe holiday fun? Trunk-or-treating.
Join with friends, neighbors and fellow parents of schoolchildren to organize an event in a field, parking lot or other open space in which you dress up your parked vehicles in do-it-yourself Halloween car-stumes, and have the kids go from car to car collecting candy in a safe, controlled environment that's fun for everyone.
This year, Cars.com dressed up our 2017 Chrysler Pacifica as Heath Ledger's iconic Joker from the "The Dark Knight," famously filmed right here in our home city of Chicago. It's our own little tribute to the "It"-fueled scary-clown craze of late.
"Why so serious?" Because keeping kids safe on Halloween is no laughing matter.