GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Pedestrian safety is always important but especially during Halloween. October is the worst month for driver-pedestrian car accidents, and adolescent safety experts say children are twice as likely to be hit and killed on Halloween than any other night of the year.
Last year there were two vehicle-pedestrian accidents in West Michigan while trick-or-treating. A 3-year-old boy in Grand Haven Township was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries after he fell out of a vehicle and was run over twice. And an 8-year-old was killed after falling off a trailer in Montcalm County.
Jennifer Hoekstra, an injury prevention specialist at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital said even small, preventative changes can make a big impact. She recommends, "lighting up the night" with flashlights or reflectors on trick-or-treaters' costumes or candy bags.
"I love the options we have nowadays, we have little zipper tags, slap bracelets and glow sticks. All of these things can be added to any costume to help your children be more visible," she said.
Other tips from Hoekstra include staying in groups, holding hands when crossing the street and any child under the age of 12 being accompanied by an adult.
When exiting a vehicle, Helen DeVos Children's Hospital recommends getting out on the right-hand side toward the nearest curb or sidewalk.
When crossing the street, Hoekstra recommends using only crosswalks and corners and to avoid jaywalking.
The Grand Rapids Police Department (GRPD) is also encouraging pedestrians to practice the "left, right, left" strategy when crossing the street, making sure the roadway is clear. Sgt. John Wittkowski advises those crossing the road to first make eye contact with a nearby driver before proceeding.
"The idea is for a pedestrian to make eye contact with that motorist. Once eye contact has been made you see a car slowing down, then it’s time to cross," he said.
Rules aren't only for pedestrians, GRPD is also asking drivers to take it slow and stay alert.
"[We're] asking motorists to slow down be aware of kids that may be darting out into traffic," Wittkowski said.
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