What Every Parent and Driver Should Know to Prevent Pedestrian Accidents Involving Children
It’s supposed to be a joyful time, but sadly Halloween can turn tragic in a split second, and that’s because some children are not old enough to understand the hazards of street traffic. For that reason, and many others, motorists need to be extra cautious if traveling about on Halloween night.
Costuming and Trick-or-Treating Are Part of Our Culture
How many years have children dressed up in costumes and taken to the streets on the night of October 31 to trick-or-treat? Try more than 60 years! Halloween itself is rooted in an ancient Celtic festival that was designed to ward off ghosts. Halloween came to the United States, but it wasn’t until a popular 1950s cartoon strip appeared that the term “trick-or-treat” was used. The Donald Duck cartoon is what got kids dressing up and saying “trick-or-treat.” Today, according to the more recent census, more than 41 million children will participate in the Halloween tradition of going door-to-door seeking goodies this Halloween.
From Fun to Tragedy in an Instant
While most children out on Halloween night return home safe, not all do. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), children are twice as likely to be seriously injured or killed on Halloween night as on any other day of the year. According to one Chicago emergency room doctor interviewed for a national story a couple of years ago, the most dangerous hours for children on Halloween night are between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Though a bit dated, analysis of pedestrian accidents involving children on Halloween from 1990 to 2010 shows crashes involving a child begin to peak about 5 p.m. and then spike about 6 p.m. Authorities point to several issues that create unsafe conditions. One is that the sun is setting around those hours and it does make it more difficult for some drivers to see what’s going on around them. Also, some children are dressed in dark costumes, making it difficult to see them, and then there’s the issue of children darting from behind parked cars or just not looking before stepping into the street.
That’s why it’s so important, in particular on Halloween night, that drivers take a more proactive posture when it comes to safety. If you must drive in highly populated areas, drive as slowly as possible because you just never know when a child will dart out in traffic or fail to stop at a corner before crossing. If you have to back out of a driveway, be extra cautious, as small children are hard enough to see to begin with, but if they are dressed in something dark, that just adds to danger if they are anywhere near a vehicle trying to back up.
Parents’ Role in Halloween Safety
The National Center for Health Statistics notes that in 2016, 7,330 pedestrians were killed by vehicles. Here in Colorado, we have seen a dramatic increase in pedestrian deaths over the past three years. According to state officials, Colorado saw an 11 percent increase in pedestrian deaths in 2017 as compared to 2016; last year 93 pedestrians were killed as compared to 84 fatalities in 2016. Worse though, last year’s total was up 45 percent when compared to 2015 when 64 pedestrians were killed.
When it comes to Halloween, there are some safety tips that can help keep children safe:
- Always have some reflective tape on a child’s costume, candy bag, and anything the child is carrying so that they can be seen
- Don’t allow a child to wear a mask that obstructs vision
- Children should always be accompanied by an adult who can serve as a lookout for cars or other obstacles
Halloween is a great time for kids, but it must be approached with caution. It’s up to the adults to make sure children are safe, and those driving on Halloween need to be extremely cautious as well to ensure every community has the safest Halloween possible.