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YOVASO has pumpkin carving contest

Youth of Virginia Speak Out About Traffic Safety (YOVASO) is joining with the Virginia State Police (VSP), Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles Highway Safety Office, and State Farm to encourage youth and teens to make good choices and celebrate responsibly as part of the statewide Halloween Safety Campaign and Pumpkin Carving Contest.

The campaign’s focus is to prevent a tragedy on what is supposed to be a fun night for youth.

The peer-to-peer campaign traditionally involves activities planned through school and youth group programs across the commonwealth, however, this year students will participate from their homes. YOVASO is taking the campaign virtual with the #ProtectYourPumpkin Pumpkin Carving Contest. The only requirement for participation is to include a safety message (i.e. Buckle Up, Slow Down, etc.) and “YOVASO” on the pumpkin, and tag @_yovaso_ on social media with #ProtectYourPumpkin. Those who do not have social media can submit their entry to YOVASO by completing a simple entry form.

All are welcome to participate, but only youth ages 11-20 are eligible for prizes. Pumpkin entries are due to YOVASO by October 31 at midnight. YOVASO will pick 10 pumpkins for public voting November 2-4. Voting will close at noon on Nov. 4. The five entries with the most votes will each receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card.

Schools and youth groups that plan to participate in trunk-or-treats or other Halloween safety events may request activity books, safety banners, and posters with the message: Staying Safe is the Trick, Having Fun is the Treat. Buckle Up, Be Seen, and Make Good Choices.

“Halloween falls on a weekend this year and that typically means more celebrations and an increase in risk for drivers and young trick-or-treaters,” said Mary King, YOVASO program manager. “Poor decisions behind the wheel, such as texting and driving, underage drinking and drug use, speeding, and forgetting to buckle up can ruin what is supposed to be a fun occasion. Help keep this Halloween safe for all by celebrating responsibly and using extra caution when driving in neighborhoods.”

Here Are Some Suggested Safety Tips for Teens to Follow for a safe Halloween:

• Avoid driving during “Halloween Rush Hour” from 5:30-9 p.m. when children are trick– or-treating.

• Drive below the speed limit in residential neighborhoods and use alternate routes when possible.

• Scan ahead for trick-or-treaters and yield to pedestrians.

• Use caution around stopped vehicles in neighborhoods and proceed slowly.

• Drive distraction-free.

• Celebrate responsibly and resist any peer pressure to celebrate Halloween with alcohol and/or drugs or to drive while impaired—it’s illegal.

• Do not ride with any drivers who may have used alcohol and/or drugs.

• Be on the alert for drivers who could be under the influence of something other than sweets.

• Remember to always buckle up.

Safety Tips for Youth to Follow for a Fun and Safe Halloween:

• Avoid distractions and leave electronic devices at home while walking or biking

• Wear reflective clothing

• Carry a flashlight or glow stick

• Walk on sidewalks when possible

• Only trick-or-treat in well-lit neighborhoods

• Older students should always travel in pairs or large groups and let parents know where you are going

• Younger students should always trick or treat with a parent or adult supervision

• Never approach a stranger’s car

• Make good decisions and avoid any mischief that could ruin a fun night

• Stay alert and be seen on Halloween in case motorists are not be watching out for you

For more information on the Pumpkin Carving Contest and safety tips, visit the YOVASO website.