Halloween in Louisiana is fun, but whether you are guiding little ones door-to-door to collect candy or simply running out of the house to do some errands this Halloween, it is important to be aware of your surroundings and keep safety top of mind.
Halloween Safety Tips For Pedestrians, Motorists, and Homeowners
Pedestrian SafetyAs you can imagine, car accidents involving pedestrians are common on Halloween. Neighborhood streets are filled with witches, ninjas, clowns, and swarms of teenagers too cool to wear costumes. Dads are pulling along wagons, prepared for the inevitable sugar crashes coming later in the evening while their better halves try to keep up with the kids, yelling “slow down Johnny!”
All the while, cars are still driving around the streets. Some drivers are tired after a long day at work, just trying to get home. Pizza deliveries are buzzing around. Teenagers are coming to and from parties. Add alcohol and you have a dangerous combination.
For pedestrians, safety means being alert, making sure you can be seen, and anticipating bad driving behavior. Remember, your first priority is your kids’ safety, so pay attention to where they are and what they are doing. No matter how much fun they are having, don’t let them get too far ahead of you and keep reminding them to get out of the way for vehicles.
Making sure you can be seen means wearing reflective clothing (my kids wore light up costumes one year). Glow bands are a fun way to make any costume more visible. Also, walking with a flashlight helps motorists to pay attention to where you are.
Finally, don’t assume that drivers will follow the rules. Rather, plan your actions by assuming drivers will make the worst decisions possible. For instance, if a car is backing out of a driveway and appears to be stopped, waiting for you to pass, take a wider path around it rather than walking right behind it.
Click here for more tips on pedestrian safety.
Motorist SafetyOn Halloween, motorists must be extra diligent and alert. One of the most common causes of pedestrian-car accidents is a motorist being inattentive or in a rush. The biggest tip for a motorist is to take your time. Even if you are late for your buddy’s party and the two goblins in the back of your mid-size SUV are going nuts, take your time and go slow. If possible, try not to drive at all or plan to get to your destination before the crowds of zombies start to gather in the streets.
You can learn a lot about defensive driving here. On Halloween, defensive driving means anticipating that kids will dart from out of nowhere in front of your car. It means thinking ahead. For instance, if you know you will have to leave your house during the festivities, back your car into your driveway beforehand so that you are facing out when you leave later.
Golf Cart SafetyParents take great pride in dressing up their kids on Halloween. But that pales in comparison to the sense of self-achievement a grown man feels when driving behind the wheel of a souped-up golf cart that looks more like a dune buggy on steroids.
Be proud of your golf cart, but don’t be stupid. Don’t let kids drive on Halloween. Make sure to park on level ground, set the brakes, and pull out the key if you go inside. Don’t go too fast, especially with unrestrained passengers, no matter their ages. One of the most frequent type of golf cart accident involves passengers falling out and suffering significant injuries.
For golf cart owners, if you don’t know whether insurance will cover you in the event of a golf cart accident, check out my article that discuses this topic specifically.
Homeowner Safety and LiabilityDo your plans at adhering to social distancing guidelines include hurling hard candy at kids with a homemade catapult? Already equip your drone with a device for dropping Milky Ways by air? I admit that these sound like fun ideas, but let’s take a step back and think about it.
In Louisiana, premises liability claims are not just reserved for slip and fall accidents at the big box stores. Homeowners also owe their guests (even trick-or-treaters) a duty to keep the premises where the invited guest may be, in a reasonably safe condition. The three-prong test is (1) whether the condition was unreasonably dangerous; (2) whether the owner knew or should have known of the dangerous condition; and (3) whether the dangerous condition caused injury.
So, when a sugar-charged 6-year old runs across your lawn and then takes a shortcut to your neighbor’s by diving head-first into the ditch in front of your house, does that mean you are liable? Probably not. In that case, the ditch is probably not unreasonably dangerous. Also, the ditch is probably an open and obvious hazard and the child’s parents assumed the risk by allowing their child to run across the yard.
But, beware! Let’s try another example. How about when your elaborately dressed husband comes out of the bushes to scare the living daylights out of the 8-year old trying to get candy from your porch and the child breaks their ankle as they step back into the half-dug hole you’ve been meaning to fill in for the past year? In that situation, the entire condition is most likely unreasonably dangerous, the owner (you and your husband) knew about it, and the condition caused the injury. Also, an argument that the child’s parents assumed the risk would likely not succeed.
The bottom line? Have fun decorating and giving out candy, but just use common sense.