Last year I wrote about the University of British Columbia study that identified Halloween night as having a 43 per cent higher risk of pedestrian deaths than any other night close to that date. Using available traffic data from the United States, the researchers looked at 608 pedestrian deaths that occurred on 42 previous Halloween nights, and found similar findings to that of a study done 20 years ago.
The graphs below show the spike in deaths of children occuring on Halloween. The second graph is more shocking, showing that 25 percent of those deaths occurred around 6:00 p.m.(at dusk) with the other 75 percent being evenly distributed between 5:00 and 8:00 p.m.
As the Vancouver Sun wrote, even though vehicles are equipped with better safety systems and lights, “car-pedestrian accidents kill four more people on average on Halloween than on other days…Kids aged 4 to 8 faced the highest risks…”
I have previously written about the University of Iowa study that found that children between the ages of 6 and 14 years of age were not able to judge the speed, distance, and safe crossing time in moving traffic. The study found they could not recognize gaps in traffic, and that skill was not fully developed until the child was around 14 years of age. Even a 12 year old crossing experienced a “fail” two percent of the time in the study.
Couple that with the current SUV obsession. SUVs (sports utility vehicles) are responsible for a 46 percent increase in pedestrian deaths and serious injury. Because of their high front ends, pedestrians are twice as likely to die if they are hit by one. Drivers of SUVs are also 11 percent more likely to be killed driving one, as the size and bulk encourages more reckless driving behaviour.
This time of year is also the danger zone for pedestrians of all ages, with the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) observing that November, December, and January are months when vehicles crash into pedestrians, with dusk being the worst time. Even more sobering 75 per cent of pedestrians are being crashed into at intersections, with 57 per cent of those crashes happening when the pedestrian actually was legally crossing and had the right of way.
How can you make Halloween safer for kids? Advice includes using reflective patches on costumes, carrying a flashlight or glow stick to be more visible, ensuring masks don’t obstruct vision, and ensuring everyone looks both ways before crossing the street.
And for motorists? Slow down, change your driver behaviour, and remember it’s the kids’ night. The UBC study recommended making Halloween a car free night in neighbourhoods which actually could solve the problem.
Here’s hoping for a safe night for everyone.