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Kids are 10 times more likely be killed in car crashes on Halloween: study

42 years of traffic data shows that Halloween is one of the most dangerous nights of the year

Kids are more likely to die in car crashes on Halloween than any other night of the year, a new study from UBC suggests.

Researchers in the faculty of medicine and science looked at 42 years of U.S. traffic data, comparing the number of pedestrian deaths on Oct 31 to that in the the weeks before and after.

Kids between the ages of four and 10 years old were found to be 10 times more likely to be the victims of fatal car crashes than on other days.

Four additional pedestrian deaths occurred on the average Halloween, mostly children or young adults between the hours of 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.

“Collecting ‘trick-or-treat’ candy from neighbours has been a Halloween tradition among children for over a century, and adult Halloween parties have become increasingly popular in bars and on campuses across North America,” said lead researcher Dr. John Staples, clinical assistant professor in the UBC faculty of medicine and scientist at the school’s Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcome Sciences.

“We wondered if the combination of dark costumes, excitement and alcohol made the streets more dangerous for pedestrians. Our findings suggest that it does.”

READ MORE: ICBC warns of high number of crashes on Halloween

Although the study looked at U.S. children, researchers found the rate was likely similar everywhere Halloween was celebrated.

In this province, the Insurance Corporation of B.C. recorded 950 crashes, resulting in 280 injuries, on Halloween last year. Most of the children died in residential neighbourhoods while out trick-or-treating.

The study suggested safety measures like traffic calming and wearing reflective patches could prevent some of the deaths.

However, researchers said limiting such measures to “event-specific interventions” missed an opportunity.

Said study co-investigator Candace Yip: “Residential traffic calming, vehicle speed control, and incorporating reflective patches into outerwear might improve pedestrian safety year-round.”


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