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Safety an issue at Halloween

October 27, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

Costume-clad children will take the streets in search of candy this week as part of the traditional celebration of Halloween.

To keep the little angels and devils, superheroes and villains and all other characters out of harm's way during the Halloween season, police agencies and other groups around the country are asking motorists and parents to be especially aware of safety measures.

According to information released by AAA, child pedestrian fatalities quadruple during the Halloween season because of the large number of children crossing busy streets in the quest for candy.

This year, the danger could be even more apparent as Halloween, Oct. 31, corresponds with the end of daylight saving time, meaning it will be dark one hour earlier, AAA said.

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Hagerstown Police Department Sgt. Timothy Wolford said he cannot recall any serious vehicle-pedestrian accidents in the area in recent years during the Halloween season. However, police are not going to relax and assume that trend will continue, he said.

"There are going to be extra officers on the streets and throughout the neighborhoods," Wolford said. "We'll be watching closely for things like speeding, of course."

Wolford said members of a newly formed unit of civilians, Hagerstown Citizens on Patrol, will drive around the city Sunday evening in search of dangerous drivers and suspicious activity, including vandalism.

Washington County Sheriff's Department Cpl. James Grimm said deputies also will be out in larger numbers to focus on Halloween activities. Grimm said a particular concern, as is the case with all holiday seasons, is watching for drunken drivers leaving Halloween parties.

"A lot of adults will have parties, so we try to focus on keeping the drivers and the kids safe," Grimm said. "They'll be out late trick-or-treating, so we want everyone to be extra cautious."

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