Avoid Scary Driving on Halloween

Scott Marshall is Director of Training for Young Drivers of Canada.  He was a judge on the first 3 seasons of Canada’s Worst Driver on Discovery Network. Scott started writing columns on driving for his community paper since 2005.  Since then his columns have been printed in several publications including newspaper, magazines and various web-sites. You can visit his own blog at http://safedriving.wordpress.com.

Growing up, there are a few times of the year that kids really enjoy. Christmas, birthdays and of course, Halloween makes the list. Let’s not even talk about last day of school! These three favourite times of the year creates excitement galore for kids. Halloween has to be one of the most exciting times for kids, but what does it do for adults, especially drivers?

As the kids dress up for their yearly trek house to house, they pose huge risks to any driver heading out onto the roadways. The excited child won’t always be looking all ways before crossing the street and rarely will they cross at the corner. What can we, as drivers do to reduce the risk of injury or death to our trick or treater’s?

Perhaps the best advice is to avoid driving that evening completely. If your vehicle is safely parked for the evening, you’ll reduce the risk of potential injury to these kids. However, if you do have to drive, you’ll need to make some changes to your everyday driving techniques.

Remember most kids will be in the residential areas so you’ll need to reduce your speed more than normal. It’s a common practice to drive around 40 km/h in residential areas, but for this night, why not reduce it to roughly 25 - 30 km/h? The reduced speed can give you more response time in case a child suddenly darts out in front of you.

To give yourself a better chance to respond to darting kids glance underneath vehicles you’re approaching to look for feet of pedestrians that may walk in front of you. From a distance, you’ll be able to see if someone is standing in front of a larger vehicle, especially if you can’t see through the windows of the vehicle. This works well in daylight, but what can you do when nightfall hits to help spot these ghosts and goblins?

Moving your eyes from building to building looking for kids helps you spot them well before they reach the roadway. The sooner you can spot the trick or treater’s, the sooner you can reduce speed or honk to warn them. Remember a couple of loud honks will get the attention of excited kids at any time of year.

If you need to go out during Halloween night and since the sidewalks will be full of kids, position your vehicle to avoid backing out of your driveway. Backing into your driveway will give you better visibility when leaving at any time of the year. The blind area behind the vehicle is much larger than the one in the front, so leaving facing forward will give you a better view of those excited kids who may be running across your intended path.

Even though you may not be going out trick or treating this Halloween night, you still have a responsibility to ensure those who do go out can do it safely.