The DOT is reminding Iowa drivers to be extra cautious over the next few days as little ghouls and goblins will be roaming the streets looking for treats.
With more people out walking in the streets at twilight and throughout the evening drivers should be scanning for people standing in or near the road.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration the number of childhood pedestrian deaths increased fourfold among elementary and middle school-aged children on Halloween evenings when compared with all other evenings.
Children can very easily get caught up in the excitement of the evening and forget to look before trying to cross the street. Costumes also tend to cause trouble for some children, masks can impede vision, and long, baggy or loose costumes may cause falls that leave children in an unsafe position.
Iowa DOT statistics show seven pedestrians were injured, two severely, and one person was killed in Iowa around Halloween last year..
“On trick-or-treat evening, we’re placing our children in some of the most dangerous traffic situations,” said Milly Ortiz, bicycle/pedestrian coordinator in the Iowa DOT’s Office of Systems Planning. “Our children are outside after dark, they walk on and cross unfamiliar streets, and they often wear dark colors which are difficult for motorists to see. Pedestrian safety is a shared responsibility of drivers, parents and children.”
The DOT offers the following tips for drivers:
- Slow down in residential neighborhoods and school zones.
- Be on the alert for children at intersections, in the street, on curbs, and on raised medians.
- Slowly and carefullyexit driveways and alleyways.
- Concentrate on the driving task and avoid distractions.
The DOT offers the following tips for parents and children
- Accompany young children. Children under age 12 should always be accompanied by an adult or older, responsible child.
- See and be seen. Kids should carry glow sticks or flashlights to see better in the dark, as well as be seen by drivers. Costumes and bags should be decorated with retro-reflective tape or stickers and, if possible, made of light colors.
- Cross streets safely. Cross at a corner, using traffic signals and crosswalks (where they exist). Look left, right and left again when crossing, and keep looking as you cross. Walk – don’t run – across the street.
- Walk on sidewalks or pathways.If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.
- Be a safe pedestrian around vehicles. Watch for vehicles that are turning or backing up. Never dart out into the street or cross in between parked cars. When exiting a vehicle, get out of the vehicle on the curb side – not on the traffic side.
- Get painted! Face paint and makeup are a better choice for children because they do not hinder vision the way that masks can. Avoid wearing hats that may slide down and cover the eyes.
- Prevent tripping and falls. Avoid wearing long, baggy or loose costumes or over sized shoes.