A new study of more than four decades of U.S. traffic data shows a significantly higher risk for pedestrian deaths on Halloween, especially for young children, Canadian researchers said.
Children (and more than a few adults) on the street in dark costumes, wearing masks that restrict their vision, and the mad rush for a sugar haul — plus earlier darkness — all contribute to raising the risk for pedestrians at a time when pedestrian deaths have been on the rise.
Children ages 4 to 8 face a nearly tenfold risk of being killed on Halloween, the study says. The researchers, in examining 42 years of U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data, found that the average Halloween resulted in four additional traffic deaths when compared to other nights. The analysis also found that most of the deaths occurred around 6 p.m.
The National Safety Council, citing different studies, said children are more than twice as likely to be fatally injured in a crash on Halloween as on any other day of the year. Among other things, the organization urged adults to use extra caution and restrict new, inexperienced drivers from driving that night. Other tips include encouraging trick-or-treaters to wear reflective tape or use glow sticks or flashlights.
The Canadian researchers, whose study appeared in JAMA on Tuesday, said they hoped that their findings wouldn’t put a chill on the holiday, which is also observed in Canada, but would spur greater efforts by law enforcement and others to protect revelers.