Study finds pedestrians at risk on Halloween

By Jessie Weisner
October 31, 2018 - 10:09am Updated: October 31, 2018 - 3:47pm

MEDICINE HAT AB -- It’s Halloween. A day for fun, costumes and candy.

However, that causes a lot of excitement, turning Halloween into a day that can turn deadly.

A recent study states pedestrian deaths spike by 43 per cent on Halloween night, putting children specifically at risk.

Canadian researchers based the study on four decades of American traffic data, including 608 pedestrian deaths on 42 Halloween nights.

Dr. John A. Staples and his team with the University of British Columbia found children between the ages of four and eight faced the highest risk and that deaths typically peaked around 6 p.m.

He decided to use American data because it was more detailed and complete, but adds it’s not far off from Canada.

“The U.S has had incredible foresight in collecting data on all fatal crashes in the United States since 1975 so we had access to over 40 years of data,” says Dr. John A. Staples. “I don’t have statistical numbers for Canada, but I would guess that the results we found from the United States also apply in Canada.””

His study indicates many factors go into the number of increased fatalities.

“We know that on Halloween there are lots of kids on the road,” says Dr. Staples. “That it’s dark, that many kids are wearing dark costumes or masks and that many younger adults are attending Halloween parties and that the incidents of drunk driving might be higher.”

But there are steps you can take to make your children safer.

“My recommendations to parents is that they take some reflective tape, attach it to thier kids costumes and get the kid to carry a glow stick or a flashlight, something that will more visible to drivers,”says Dr. Staples. “My message to drivers is don’t drive drunk, don’t drive high, don’t drive distracted and make sure you slow right down when you’re in residential neighbourhoods.”

In addition, he says changes need to be made by cities.

“We need to continue to work hard to make our cities and the rest of the country friendly to pedestrians,” says Dr. Staples. “That means making sure they have the infrastructure that they need such as sidewalks and well-lit cross walks.”

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