Police: Pedestrian safety first priority on Halloween

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Little ghosts and goblins will be out on local roads and neighborhoods tonight, but here's a scary statistic: a recent study says twice as many children are killed in pedestrian accidents while walking on Halloween than on any other day of the year.

The study was done by a child injury prevention organization known as Safe Kids Worldwide, and its purpose was to bring to light real dangers that can possibly ruin an otherwise fun night.

The Columbia Police Department says they don't keep track of statistics specifically for Halloween, but the dangers of a child being hit and possibly killed by a car are very real. They say parents should be having a conversation with their children about the dangers, including the importance of staying on sidewalks and using crosswalks.

Authorities say children should never go trick or treating alone. It may sound like common sense,  but the study by Safe Kids Worldwide says 12 percent of kids under the age of five were allowed to trick or treat alone. Columbia Police say unfortunately it does happens and most often in neighborhoods where families feel comfortable. However, authorities say it's easy to forget that people who may usually not be in that neighborhood are out and about.

Authorities say going with your child will protect them from all kinds of threats, including the potential for them to walk out into the road unexpectedly. "The biggest things that we're looking out for is pedestrian safety, we want children to be safe when they're out trick or treating and walking about in their neighborhood," said Cpl. Stover. "We also look for suspicious activity. That's going to be tough to figure out what suspicious activity is on Halloween, but that's something that our officers look for, as well," he added.

Columbia police say they always have extra patrols on Halloween. "Law enforcement do patrol a lot more on Halloween night, as they do on several other nights of the year because of the simple number of people out," said Corporal Scott Stover, with the Columbia Police Department. "There's a greater number of people out on the streets. There's that potential for mischief that's out there, and the Columbia Police Department will have its patrol units out in the metro, North, South, East and West regions all out in force, as well as, some of the special operations groups."

Police say while it's best to get home before dark, carry flashlights just in case. Officials say the other big thing that can lead to child injuries is his or her own costume. Safe Kids Worldwide says 40 percent of parents allow their child to use one or more unsafe item on Halloween, including costumes that are too big, or masks that block vision. Authorities say makes sure your child costume is not lose fitting, because a child us more likely to trip or get caught in something.

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