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Editorial: Be safe and avoid real Halloween scares

There are plenty of frightening things happening on Halloween, but the scariest thought that will cross any parent’s mind is that of their child being struck by a car while trick-or-treating.

Various research has shown that children a two to four times more likely to be struck by a motor vehicle on Halloween than any other day of the year. The National Highway Safety Administration says that Halloween is consistently one of the worst times of the year for pedestrian injuries.

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Making sure children are visible to motorists is one way to help avoid a Halloween tragedy.

This year, the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration is trying to help children been seen by distributing free light-up bracelets to wear while trick-or-treating, as well bookmarks with safety tips as part of its “Light Up for Safety” walk smart initiative.

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In Harford County, these bracelets can be picked up from 3 to 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Motor Vehicle Administration branch at 501 W. MacPhail Road in Bel Air.

“Light Up for Safety is an opportunity to stress the importance of pedestrian safety with both walkers and drivers,” MDOT SHA Administrator Gregory Slater said in a prepared release. “With Halloween, and the upcoming time change that will bring dusk earlier in the day, we want to make sure drivers and pedestrians are looking out for each other.”

If you can’t make it to the MVA/Giant to pick up a free bracelet, similar items like glowsticks or other light-up or flashing accessories can likely be purchased fairly inexpensively at your nearest dollar store (just go today and avoid a last-minute holiday rush). Other possibilities are adding some reflective tape to your child’s costume, shoes and candy bags or buckets; or have them carry a flashlight while trick-or-treating.

Parents should also check their child’s costume to make sure it doesn’t impair their vision significantly and that there are no tripping hazards like a long dress or cape.

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For youngsters old enough to trick-or-treat without an adult, remind them to be vigilant, look both ways before crossing and continue to look while they are crossing roads. It’s also a good idea to travel in a group — a motorist is more likely to see a group of people than a single child.

Grown-ups who are accompanying young trick-or-treaters should be mindful too. Put the phone away and keep an eye on the kids.

Motorists need to take a stake in children’s safety as well on Halloween night.

First and foremost, slow down, especially in residential neighborhoods. Give yourself more time to react in case a child does dart out into the street. In most places, trick-or-treating is from 6 to 8 p.m., but you’ll always have a few early birds and late-night treat hunters. Don’t assume it’s too early or too late for kids to be out.

And while this should go without saying, don’t drink-and-drive on Halloween night or any night. Anticipating parties and other festivities this weekend, many local police agencies, as well as Maryland State Police, have warned they’ll have additional enforcement looking for impaired, aggressive, distracted and speeding drivers.

Troopers from the JFK Highway Barrack will conduct Operation SCARE (Special Concentration of Alcohol Reduction Enforcement) on I-95 from Baltimore to the Delaware line, including patrols at the Maryland House and Chesapeake House rest areas.

Troopers from the Bel Air barrack will be conducting DUI saturation patrols throughout the county from Halloween through the weekend.

Don’t make Halloween scarier than it has to be. Be safe and have a fun and happy holiday.

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