In 1996, the CDC reported that car accidents were responsible for almost a fifth of all deaths for children between ages 0-19 years old. They also reported that on Halloween, the number of car-related deaths among children increased fourfold. Over the years, that trend hasn’t changed: decades of research that extend beyond the nineties shows that Halloween is by far the deadliest day of the year for child pedestrian crashes. Most of the health focus on Halloween is usually about sugar, but in reality, cars are the problem.
Here’s what you need to know:
- A study funded by State Farm found that in 20 years, more than 115 children were killed by car crashes on Halloween. The study also found that certain hours, over than others, are more deadly: The large majority of Halloween-related accidents occurred between the hours of 6 and 7 p.m. Most of the accidents occurred in the middle of the street — meaning that the more regular spots for pedestrian traffic, such as sidewalks and intersections, were safer than crossing neighborhood streets.
- Weirdly enough, more teenagers (think 12-19) than young children (think 0-12) are struck by cars and killed. Equally troubling information showed that the majority of the accidents were caused by young drivers aged 15-25. This may be because of technological distractions like texting while driving or talking on the phone while driving. Teens and teen drivers are more likely to have smartphones. People are more likely to have smartphones in general — this year, 80 percent of Americans report owning such a gadget.
- Not only do parents need to talk to their children about how to safely walk around neighborhoods on the holiday, drivers also need to practice much safer driving than they would normally. That means slower speeds, and more attention to the roads, because young kids could run out at any moment if their parent isn’t paying attention or didn’t teach them to “look both ways.”
- After all, despite legislation in 47 states that limits texting while driving and in several states that limit phone use at all, research shows that phone-related car accidents are increasing in frequency, rather than diminishing. There’s also inaccurate reporting across all 50 states because post-accident protocols vary widely between EMTs, police, and state data collecting issues.
- It’s also hard to say that those involved in the accident even own up to using a phone leading up to the event because it could slap an additional charge onto the accident. Basically, even though there is a lot of data to suggest that phone-related car accidents are an increasing problem, the reality is probably far, far worse and prevalent.
- Texting and driving is dangerous. It is especially dangerous on a certain night of the year when children are roaming the streets freely.
Some basic tips for you and your kids, whether they are trick-or-treating or driving:
- Talk to your kids about looking both ways.
- Cross only at crosswalks.
- Hold their hand while they cross the street.
- Don’t use your smartphone too much.
- If you are driving, drive slowly and stay off of your phone.
Be safe out there, folks.