(Courtesy AAA)

With Halloween only days away, AAA reminds parents to be extra vigilant of the potential dangers that children face while trick or treating. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), children are four times more likely to be struck by a motor vehicle on Halloween than on any other day of the year.

Children are always at greater risk as pedestrians because of their shorter stature and unreliable judgment about when and where to cross streets. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of deaths among young pedestrians from 5 to 14 years of age is four times higher on Halloween, between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m.

The number of fatalities in vehicle related crashes on Halloween in 2009 increased 16 percent, with 110 fatalities, when compared to the rest of the year, which averaged 92 fatalities per day nationwide. According to data from NHTSA, vehicle fatalities increase when Halloween falls on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

“Combine children walking after dark, candy, vision-compromising costumes, and adult partygoers on the road and you have a recipe for disaster,” said AAA Utah spokesperson Rolayne Fairclough. “Children are safer the more visible they are. There are many easy and inexpensive ways for parents to make sure that Halloween costumes are both easy for drivers to see at a distance and easy for children to see out of.”

AAA Safety Halloween Tips for Parents and Drivers

· Parents are encouraged to walk with their children door to door while trick-or-treating, showing children safe places to cross the street.
· Trick-or-treaters should always walk facing traffic if there are no sidewalks available.
· Children and parents both should wear light-colored clothing or costumes with retro-reflective material for the best visibility to drivers.
· Use face paint instead of masks for Halloween costumes. Masks can limit the ability to see and hear oncoming traffic.
· Children should carry flashlights to be seen, but should not shine them into drivers’ eyes.
· Create a map of the neighborhood so children and parents agree on the safest trick-or-treating route in advance, including only familiar neighborhoods. Go only to houses that are well lit.
· Motorists should drive slower through neighborhoods (approximately 5 mph slower than the posted speed limit). Children dart from house to house, excited about collecting candy, and they forget about traffic and other dangers. Look for children around porches, front lawns, and other areas adjacent to the road, not just the sidewalks.

AAA offers a detailed list of Halloween safety tips for motorists, parents and kids, as well as other traffic safety information at www.aaa.com/saferdriving.

As part of AAA's on-going commitment to keeping the roads safe on holidays, AAA's Tipsy Tow Program will offer a free tow for drinking drivers from 6:00 p.m. on October 31, to 6:00 a.m. on November 1, in Northern California, Nevada and Utah. Members and non-members alike can call (800) 222-4357 (AAA-HELP) for a free tow of up to five miles.

“Just tell the AAA operator, ‘I need a Tipsy Tow,’ and a truck will be on its way,” said Fairclough. “Service is restricted to a one-way ride for the driver and his or her vehicle to the driver’s home.”

AAA Utah offers a wide array of automotive, travel, insurance, DMV, financial services and consumer discounts to more than 175, 000 members. AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers since it was founded more than 100 years ago.