ANNAPOLIS – This Halloween, drivers must beware – and be aware – of the creatures pedestrians become when darkness falls.
Night arrives earlier and children’s excitement makes them less attentive during the holiday, so the utmost concentration is required of drivers, said Pete Piringer, spokesman for the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service. Children-turned-bats and superheroes might fly between houses because they are so wound up.
It’s a “visibility thing,” Piringer said.
Montgomery County has put particular emphasis on pedestrian safety, Piringer said. The county, from 1997 to 1999 saw more pedestrians killed crossing streets than in homicides. And in Burtonsville Tuesday, two girls, 11 and 5, were seriously injured trying to cross a darkened street while wearing dark clothing.
Trick-or-treaters should wear reflective wrist bands and parents should apply reflective tape and stickers to anything children are wearing or carrying on Halloween night, rescue personnel recommend.
Mary Jo Neil, a mediation and conflict resolution leadership trainer for Maryland PTA, isn’t really worried about Halloween. Neil, of Howard County, said she will stay close to her children when they go trick-or-treating. Plus, the houses in her area are spread out and there isn’t too much traffic, she said.
Halloweeners can get a little visibility help from the Maryland State Highway Administration, which, for the ninth year, will loan out its orange reflective vests to put over costumes. They will be available through Friday on a first-come, first-served basis.
One of the goals of the SHA is to put the issue of pedestrian safety on the map, even if the vests aren’t used, said Lora Rakowski, an SHA public information officer.
It is better to “see and be seen,” Rakowski said.
The vests are on loan, but parents, she said, have been “very conscientious” about returning them. Just in case, shops take down information so SHA can gently remind patrons if vests are not returned in a timely manner.
Even though Halloween is usually a children’s holiday, it might attract more adults this year because it falls on a Friday, said John White, public and government relations manager for AAA Mid-Atlantic.
What that means, he said, is more drinking and, he hopes, more planning. Adults celebrating All Hallows Eve should find a designated driver if they want to drink.
The National Center for Statistics and Analysis, a division of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, found that alcohol was involved in 11 percent of all crashes on weekends in 2002, and in 54 percent of fatal weekend crashes.