Adults are so easy to scare these days. Just dangle an unwrapped Snickers fun size in front of their kid's hand and yell, "I didn't check this for razor blades!" Silly parent, the Halloween candy is not going to kill your kid! But the car might.
An estimated 42 percent of car crashes, where a child is hit and killed, occurs between the hours of 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. That's prime trick or treating time in most American neighborhoods.
Let me lay it out there. I'm a free-wheeling parent. I have never checked my kid's candy, and I see no reason to stick to the accepted trick or treat format. But I came dangerously close to developing a permanent twitch in my arm last Halloween from the 6,000 times I flung it out to grab my daughter's hand or push her little friend out of the road and onto the lawn of yet another house.
Kids are quick. Cars are big. And all it takes is a second.
Take the most responsible kid in the neighborhood, and Halloween will turn him into a scary monster of sugared up proportions. He's not misbehaving. He's on top of the world. And that bears out in the numbers. The number of little kids getting hit by cars is actually dipping, while the so-called "responsible" kids ages 8 to 14 are increasingly at risk.
Those are over-excited kids who normally know the "stop, look both ways" rule. In a flurry of anticipation, they're not thinking about cars. They're thinking about whether Old Man Smith still gives out full-sized candy bars. And whether he'll run out before they get there.
Add in neighborhood hopping parents driving their kids around town (an even bigger problem if it's a rainy Halloween in your neck of the woods), plus bored teens out cruising for some houses to hit without a costume, and you've got a concoction for trouble.
So what do you do?
- Flashlights, flashlights, and more flashlights.
- Glow bracelets -- everyone loves them, and you can give the rest away when you get home to more trick or treaters.
- Wear something reflective and light in color. Yes, you, Mom. The kids tend to shed clothes as the night goes on, so others in the group need to always wear something that the cars can see.
- Set firm, fast rules, and stick to them. If they think they're going to to get yanked out of the fray and miss out on the "good" houses on the street, your kids are bound to listen up when you call them out of the street.
How do you handle the streets on Halloween?
Image via rattler97/Flickr