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Worried about your kids getting poisoned with bad candy from trick-or-treating?
Be worried, instead, about the mundane act of crossing the street.
As parents and caregivers plan for Halloween activities, it's a good time to emphasize the importance of basic safety practices for pedestrians, drivers and even property owners.
Pedestrian deaths in vehicle crashes hit a 28-year high in 2018 despite advancements in automotive safety, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Experts say a mix of factors is likely to blame, including distracted driving, speeding and urbanization.
A Detroit Free Press/USA TODAY Network investigation last year concluded that the nation's boom in SUVs is also a leading factor because they're deadlier for pedestrians than passenger cars. (After that investigation was published, the Governors Highway Safety Association published a report coming to the same conclusion.)
"We have increased distractions, people on their phones or their devices and not paying attention, whether they’re a pedestrian or a driver," said Tammy Franks, senior program manager in advocacy for the National Safety Council.
Kids are three times more likely to be killed in a pedestrian collision on Halloween than any other day of the year, the Washington Post reported.
IIHS study: Automatic braking can be lifesaving for pedestrians (except when it's not)
Here's some advice from the National Safety Council and other sources:
Stick to sidewalks and obey all signals. If there's no sidewalk, cling closely to the curb and walk against the flow of traffic.
Avoid walking between parked cars. "Especially in cul-de-sacs or dead-end streets where it might seem safe, it’s still important to" be cautious, Franks said.
Pick a neighborhood with good lighting. More than 3 in 4 pedestrian deaths happen after dark, according to NHTSA.
Always put your phone down when crossing the street. Distracted walking is believed to be a rising source of serious injuries for pedestrians.
Absolutely no phone use. Distracted driving is extremely dangerous and may be a primary cause of the spike in pedestrian deaths, though it's hard for researchers to track. "Heads up, phones down," Franks said.
Be alert for kids in places they might normally be, including roads, medians or curbs.
Move slowly into and out of driveways. Kids could be walking past without realizing you're there.
Make eye contact with pedestrians who are crossing the street.
Prevent young drivers from hitting the road. Inexperienced drivers and Halloween are not a good mix.
Make sure your sidewalks are clear. That way kids won't be tempted to walk into the road.
Turn lights on. "We want to make certain that children are seen," Franks said.