Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., introduced legislation today that addresses child safety concerns on Halloween.
Enzi introduced the Halloween Safety Act of 2003 that would extend Daylight Saving Time by one week to the first weekend of November to give parents and children and extra hour of daylight to "collect their treats."
"Although Halloween is a fun holiday, there are concerns about the safety of our children. I have proposed a simple, but important change that would help ensure the protections of Daylight Saving Time are extended through the time that so many of our children will be out walking the streets of their neighborhood in pursuit of their favorite holiday treats," Enzi said.
Enzi said the issue was brought to his attention by Sharon Rasmussen and her students in Sheridan. Rasmussen and her students have written Wyoming representatives, including Enzi, each of the last 12 years.
"When students take an interest in improving our nation's laws, especially when it would serve to protect other children, I believe it is our duty to pay close attention to their needs and respond if possible. If children are concerned about their own safety, and they suggest a reasonable approach to making their world a little bit safer, I believe that accommodating their request is not too much to ask," said Enzi.
The bill has been referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. A full statement submitted by Enzi for the Senate record follows:
Senator Michael B. Enzi
Halloween Safety Act of 2003
Mr. President, This Friday, October 31st, families all over America will be celebrating a special holiday that has become a family tradition. On that day, our children will be dressing up as their favorite characters and clowns and heading down the street to scour the neighborhood in search of their favorite candies and sweets. As each group of witches, goblins and ghouls patrols the neighborhood, the cries of "Trick or Treat" will be heard everywhere along with the shouts of joy and excitement from each participant as they bring home a bag full of all sorts of candy to share with the whole family.
Although it is a great holiday, there has always been one great concern about it – the safety of our children. It is a concern that stems from the time change that occurs the weekend before Halloween. Unfortunately, when Congress passed legislation authorizing the use of Daylight Saving Time, we drew the line one week short of Halloween. Instead of including it in the time change boundaries, Congress drew the finish line for Daylight Saving Time one week short, so that it ended the weekend before, instead of after the night so many of our children will be out walking the streets of their neighborhood in pursuit of their favorite holiday treats.
That is why I am pleased to introduce the Halloween Safety Act of 2003. Its purpose is to extend the end date of Daylight Saving Time from the last Sunday in October to the first Sunday in November. This simple, but important, change will ensure that the protections of Daylight Saving Time extend through Halloween.
The idea of extending Daylight Saving Time was introduced to me by Sharon Rasmussen, a second grade teacher from Sheridan, Wyoming, and her students. Twelve years ago Mrs. Rasmussen's class began writing to Wyoming's representatives expressing their wish to have an extra hour of daylight on Halloween to ensure the safety of small children. Each year since then I have received a packet of letters from Mrs. Rasmussen's class encouraging my support for this reasonable proposal.
Legislation has been introduced in the past to extend Daylight Saving Time. Although many of the bills sought to change both the starting date and the ending date, the legislation I introduced today would simply extend it for one week.
The reason why such a change needs to be made is readily apparent. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, over four thousand eight hundred people died in 2001, that is an average of 13 deaths per day. Fatal pedestrian-motor vehicle collisions occur most often between 6 and 9pm. Unfortunately, these general trends are highly magnified on Halloween given the considerable increase in pedestrians, most of whom are children. A study by the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control concluded that the occurrence of pedestrian deaths for children ages 5 to 14 is four times higher on Halloween than any other night of the year. School and communities encourage children and parents to use safety measures when children venture out on Halloween and the Halloween Safety Act can further help protect our nation's youth.
When students take an interest in improving our nation's laws, especially when it would serve to protect other children, I believe it is our duty to pay close attention to their needs and respond if possible. If children concerned about their own safety suggest a reasonable approach to making their world a little bit safer, I believe that accommodating their request is not too much to ask. The fact that second and third grade students in Sheridan, Wyoming have been working on this legislation for years shows that protecting the children of our country is a primary concern of theirs, and it should be for all of us as lawmakers. If one life can be saved or one accident avoided by extending Daylight Saving Time, it would be worthwhile.
I encourage all my colleagues to support this Act for the important benefits the Halloween Safety Act of 2003 would have for children and their parents.