While the week of Halloween is often one of the most exciting weeks for children all over the country, it can unfortunately be one of the most dangerous nights of the year for our most precious assets as well. Traditionally parents have been more concerned, understandably, about the contribution of candy to our country’s obesity epidemic or about stranger danger. However, the bigger danger today is the risk of pedestrians accidents involving motor vehicles.
According to USA Today, a new U.S. government report notes that 115 pedestrians under 18 were killed on October 31 from 1990 to 2010. Taken on average, this is 5.5 deaths per Halloween—more than double the daily average of 2.6 deaths on “normal” days. Teenagers are also at increased risk for getting hit: children ages 12-18 accounted for 47 deaths, followed by the 7-12 age group, who accounted for 41 deaths. The remaining deaths were among younger children, aged 6 and under.
While these statistics are troubling, parents can follow basic safety tips to help protect their children. First, parents should accompany all children aged 12 and under during trick-or-treating. According to USA Today, a Safe Kids Worldwide study from 2011 found that a whopping 12% of children aged 5 and under trick-or-treated alone. Only 18% of parents place reflective tape on their children’s clothing. For those who are old enough to trick-or-treat on their own, they should be reminded to carry flashlights, cross at crosswalks, wear reflective clothing and avoid masks that limit vision, according to Kate Carr, president and CEO of Safe Kids. Parents should remind children of all ages to look for cars that are backing up.
Teenagers must also be reminded to be mindful of their surroundings by paying attention to the road, keeping their eyes on their path, putting away their phones, and to stop texting and using social media while walking. Another Safe Kids study indicates that teen pedestrian injuries are on the rise year round, not just on Halloween, while injuries among younger children are decreasing. Ms. Carr thinks this finding may be attributed to the electronic distractions that teens face that younger children do not yet have.
Additionally, ensuring a safe Halloween truly takes a village: drivers should do their part by slowing down on Halloween and being ever mindful of trick-or-treaters. Due to the excitement that is Halloween, children can move unpredictably.
Halloween is a fun tradition that children have been enjoying for many years. When proper safety precautions are taken, Halloween will continue to provide nothing but happy, pleasant memories. Speaking to your older children about being mindful while trick-or-treating, and accompanying younger children during their trick-or-treating, will continue to assure our most precious young ones continue to be safe. If you don’t have children, please be extremely careful while driving around trick-or-treaters. Happy Halloween!