Halloween is a great time of year in the Central Valley, whether in Sacramento, Stockton or Modesto. Friends gather and celebrate the holiday with costume parties. Fully-costumed kids run up to neighborhood homes whether in Sacramento’s Arden Arcade district, Stockton’s Weston Ranch area or Modesto’s Village One neighborhood. They knock on doors while calling out “trick or treat” and receive a candy surprise in exchange. The holiday can be fun for all and especially children.
However, there can be dangers associated with Halloween. We have all heard of children receiving dangerous candy so candy should be checked thoroughly before consumed. Yet, there is even another danger: anxious children tend to run across neighborhood streets and outside crosswalks not being aware of their surroundings. They do so under the excitement to gather more and more candy. In the meantime, neighborhood residents and others continue to drive their automobiles, and if not careful, could easily crash into these children.
As a motorist, you may think that any crash would be the fault of the adult charged with watching the child. After all, the parent or adult should not allow the child to walk or run in the middle of the street. You would be right. Under California law, a parent is considered to have a “special relationship” with his or her child and is responsible for maintaining the child’s safety. Also, an adult who assumes the responsibility to care for a child would also be responsible for the child’s injuries as well.
However, as a motorist, you too may bear responsibility. Motorists have a duty to follow California Vehicle Code section 22350, which states, “No person shall drive a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, the traffic on, and the surface and width of, the highway, and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property.” A strong argument may be made that a reasonable driver knows or should know that children walk and run outside crosswalks on Halloween Night. Although streets are not typically blocked off for pedestrian traffic, pedestrian traffic is known to consume some neighborhoods on Halloween Night. Therefore, as a driver, you need to drive slow enough to watch out for children.
Be safe this Halloween and watch out for those street monsters.