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Halloween is deadliest day for child pedestrians, research shows

John Egan

Trick-or-tricking is all about costumes and candy, right? Unfortunately, trick-or-treating kids face a deadly danger on Halloween.

New statistics from car insurance company State Farm and research company Sperling’s BestPlaces show Halloween is the deadliest day of the year for child pedestrians. A review of federal data from 1990 through 2010 found that 115 pedestrians age 18 and under were killed on Halloween. That’s an average of 5.5 deaths each year on Oct. 31 – more than double the average of 2.6 deaths on other days.

Here are some other grim statistics:

  • Nearly one-fourth of these fatal accidents occurred from 6 pm. to 7 pm. More than 60 percent of the accidents happened from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Drivers age 15 to 25 accounted for nearly one-third of all deaths involving child pedestrians on Halloween.
  • Drivers 36 to 40 and 61 to 65 were involved in the fewest child pedestrian deaths on Halloween.
  • Most of the pedestrian deaths occurred among children age 12 to 15.

Kellie Clapper, assistant vice president of public affairs at State Farm, says in a news release: “The analysis of this data highlights the particular need for parents to be especially alert during Halloween.”

State Farm and Sperling’s BestPlaces urge motorists to avoid all distractions – including smartphones – while driving in areas where children are trick-or-treating.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center says children should always walk, not run, on their trick-or-treating rounds and should stay on sidewalks. Parents should teach their children to look both ways before crossing the street, use crosswalks and always travel in well-lit areas, the hospital says.

The Vanderbilt hospital recommends putting reflective tape on costumes and bags to make kids more visible to drivers. Additionally, the UC San Diego Health System suggests that trick-or-treating kids wear costumes with light or bright colors.

Dr. Mark Cichon, chairman of the emergency medicine department at Loyola University Health System, says one adult in a trick-or-treating group should wear a reflective safety vest and give each child a glow stick or flashlight to increase visibility. “You want to be able to see where you are going and also for others to see you, especially around moving vehicles,” Chicon says in a news release.

Dr. Karen Judy, a safety expert at the Loyola system, adds: “Kids love Halloween, and it’s a great time to get outside and have some fun. Some of the best ways to keep kids safe on Halloween (are) to create boundaries and talk to your kids. Make sure you know who your kids are with and where they are going.”


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