Plan Now to Keep Pedestrians Safe on Halloween

Oct 24, 2011, 4:00 PM, Posted by NewPublicHealth

With 40 million kids trick-or-treating in the United States on Halloween each year, safety organizations say the risk of a child being killed in a traffic accident is four times higher than on non-witching nights. General advice is for all trick or treaters and their adult chaperons to wear reflective tape on their torso and feet if they'll be out at night. NewPublicHealth checked in with Shari Franklin-Smith, who handles consumer education for 3M, one of several manufacturers of reflective products, for more detailed suggestions.

Don't wear white at night (or at least not just white!): Drivers moving at just 30 mph can travel a distance of over 500 feet before they are able to stop a car in response to an obstacle, but a pedestrian wearing a white shirt may not be visible to drivers until they are within 300 feet of the car. While lighter colored clothing allows for better visibility to drivers at night, the safest option is to wear white or light-colored clothing with reflective materials, which can be seen at night from farther away.

Wear fluorescent materials. Fluorescent materials help trick-or-treaters stand out during daylight, dawn and dusk hours. Once it’s dark, the color of the clothing doesn't make a huge difference.

Increase visibility from all angles: The safest options are clothes, or reflective tape on clothes, that is visible from the front, back and sides.

Make sure they see you coming: Add reflective tape at the knees, elbows, ankles, wrists and feet. It helps drivers see pedestrians when they move and makes them more identifiable as a human form, rather than a sign or construction barrel. It may give drivers more time to react, especially if kids suddently bolt across the street looking for better candy, and helps in low-light environments.

Weigh In: What safety ideas has your community added this Halloween season?

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF New Public Health blog.