Not to sound like a broken record, but after this past week, the message bears repeating: Pedestrians and motorists must watch out for each other, on busy highways, smaller rural roads and neighborhood streets.
About a week ago, we warned that there had been at least four fatal pedestrian crashes across the state of Maryland, but fortunately none locally. Since that time, there have been three crashes involving pedestrians, two of them fatally, that have occurred in our communities.
The first happened Friday night in Mount Airy on Interstate-70, near the Howard and Carroll county lines. A woman was attempting to cross the interstate after, for unknown reasons, she had crashed her vehicle into the guardrail.
A little over an hour later, a Pennsylvania woman was struck on Md. 140 near Center Street in Westminster. She was taken to Carroll Hospital where she was later pronounced deceased.
Early Monday morning, a Baltimore man pushing a shopping cart across Md. 26 (Liberty Road) was struck by a vehicle near Oakland Mills Road in Eldersburg. He was flown to University of Maryland Shock Trauma with non-life threatening injuries.
We cannot stress enough to motorists that they must be vigilant of individuals who may be attempting to cross these busy roads, and to pedestrians that they are taking their lives in their own hands when walking or crossing busy highways, where drivers are not expecting them to be.
But, on this particular day, our minds are also on the number of youth who will be canvassing neighborhood streets in search of treats for Halloween.
Halloween is consistently one of the worst times for pedestrian injuries and fatalities, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that children are four times more likely to be struck by a motor vehicle on Halloween than any other day of the year.
Motorists should be on high alert from 6 to 8 p.m., which most communities have designated times for trick-or-treating, but there will always be a few early birds, as well as those out later, to be aware of. Slow down when driving in residential areas, where there are likely to be more costumed kiddos out and about, but you never know what may lurk around the bend of rural roads. While we wouldn’t recommend it, it wouldn’t surprise us to see a few rogue trick-or-treaters out in these areas.
Of course, refrain from alcohol if you’re going to be driving on Halloween night — or any night. Besides being illegal to drive intoxicated, studies have shown that alcohol dulls reaction time, even at blood-alcohol-concentration levels under the legal limit.
Parents can take precautions to keep their children safe, too, by making sure they are visible to motorists. Flashlights, glow sticks, glow-in-the-dark bracelets and reflective tape on costumes or treat bags are all good ideas that will make kids stand out.
Aside from visibility, check to make sure there are no tripping hazards like capes, long dresses, long pants or shoe covers. And if your child is wearing a mask as part of their costume, make sure they can see out of it clearly. If not, remind them to take it off before crossing the street.
While it may seem trite, remind older children who may not be trick-or-treating with an adult to practice usual safety precautions, including looking both ways before stepping out into the road. If they have a cellphone with them, tell them to keep it tucked safely away and not to text while they are walking or crossing near roadways.
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A lot of this might seem like common sense, but after a deadly week on our roads, we would urge everyone to please give some extra thought to pedestrian safety before you get behind the wheel, cross the street or send your kids outside — especially on Halloween, but every day.