Safety Tips For Halloween Trick or Treating
Parents have long been warned that Halloween is the most dangerous night of the year for the youngest pedestrians, but new data suggest teens are about equally at risk.
A new analysis of U.S. government data shows that 115 pedestrians under 18 were killed on Oct. 31 over a 21 year period from 1990 to 2010. That's an average of 5.5 deaths each Halloween, compared with an average of 2.6 on other days, confirming that Halloween is, by far, the deadliest day of the year for young pedestrians, says researcher Bert Sperling, who analyzes quality-of-life data on U.S. communities at Sperling's BestPlaces (bestplaces.net).
"People worry about 'stranger danger' and sparking the obesity epidemic with all the candy, but this is the real danger on Halloween," says Sperling, who examined the Halloween fatality data for auto insurer State Farm.
Most often killed: kids ages 12 to 18, who accounted for 47 deaths, followed by children ages 7 to 12 with 41 deaths. The remaining 27 deaths were among children ages 6 and under.
On Halloween, "there are lots of excited kids on the streets," and "parents need to talk to kids about safety no matter how old they are" and no matter how many safety talks they've already had, says Kate Carr, president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide, a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C. Kids of all ages who are headed out on foot should be reminded to cross at crosswalks, carry flashlights, wear reflective clothing and avoid masks that limit vision, she says.
Parents should accompany kids up to at least age 12, she says. A Safe Kids study in 2011 found 12% of children ages 5 and under trick-or-treated alone.
But solo-going tweens and teens need extra reminders, Carr says — to put away their cellphones, stop texting and taking pictures, and keep their eyes on their path. A recent Safe Kids study shows that teen pedestrian injuries are rising year round, while injuries among younger children are falling, possibly because of electronic distractions, Carr says.
Most fatal accidents involving child pedestrians on Halloween occurred 5-9 p.m.
Parents of teens and young adults will find another reason to worry in the new State Farm data: Drivers who struck and killed Halloween pedestrians were most likely to be ages 15 to 25. Those 20 or younger were involved in 18 of the deaths.
One piece of good news: Deaths were below average each year from 2005 to 2010, suggesting safety campaigns might be making a difference.
• The deadliest hour is from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., and 60% of the fatal accidents occurred from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
• Just 30% of the accidents occurred at intersections and crosswalks.