I’ve been trying to get the word out as far as I can for a few years now, in response to a dangerous trend: Parents on Halloween are sitting on the side of the road with their headlights on, following their kids on the trick-or-treat route.
This is extremely dangerous to kids. I cannot stress this enough. If you know someone who does this, you need to tell them to stop. If you don’t, you still need to tell everyone else to pass this on. I’m not trying to start some sort of stupid chain thing, because I don’t want to be that guy, but get the word out any way you can. This stupid behavior is going to get a kid killed.
First off, know that I’m not talking about rural roads, places where there’s practically no light and if you don’t drive the kids everywhere, they’ll spend the whole night walking to reach just a handful of houses. Not those places. You guys are fine, and can go about your business.
No, I mean suburban roads. My house is on a corner lot on a relatively wide arterial street. The last few years when I’ve driven down this road in the dark, I’ve run into many, many cars parked in the road on both sides, often aligned so that you have to squeeze through, because the people involved are too stupid to just pull up so they’re not right next to each other. Grown adults, who should know better, stand in the road. But worst of all, these cars have their lights on, and in some cases even their high beams.
Keeping the headlights on the kids isn’t making them safer; it’s making them invisible.
When you have your headlights trained on a kid who’s right up near you, you can see them just fine. But a car coming in the other direction can’t. They don’t get the benefit of your headlights; from their perspective the kid is in shadow. What they do get is blinded by your headlights. Kids become backlit, and are only visible when they eclipse your light by walking in front of it. Whatever light the other driver could have seen reflecting off them, from their own lights or the street lights, is completely outmatched by the light coming directly from your headlights. The other driver’s pupils will contract from having to look pretty close to your lights, making low-light details harder to see.
And if you have high beams on, the other driver is practically blind.
I chalk the headlights up to not thinking these things through. That’s just classic stupid. We all have brain farts from time to time, but this has obviously become a trend. I don’t know who’s out there telling people this is a good idea, but we need to stop them and preferably hurt them. And I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: doing this with high beams is the act of an epic douchebag who deserves to be mauled by a skunk.
The neighborhoods where this happens the most already have street lights. My street has them. My parents’ neighborhood has them, and the same thing happens there. Look, the street lights and the headlights of the other drivers who are actually driving are usually more than adequate to see children in the road—all the more so if you’ve done the actual smart thing and given the kids’ costumes or bags reflectors, or even given them all glow sticks. Glow sticks are awesome; buy a bunch of those and your kids will have a blast, and people can see them—as long as they’re not blinded by morons on the side of the road.
Folks, I want kids to be safe. That’s why I’m saying this early, in the possibly vain hopes that anyone will listen or pass it on. Please pass this along, if not a link to the blog then just a firm reminder. I don’t care how the word gets out, as long as the word does get out and this trend is reversed for good. Tell people; educate them on why shining a bright light in somebody’s face in the dark means they’re not going to be able to see a whole lot else, like the very kids we all want to protect. (Not so much the adults that stand in the road oblivious though. Screw those idiots.) Let’s do something right this Halloween and push back against brain-dead helicopter parenting that’s not only way too overprotective, but outright dangerous.