Spooky season is upon us, and it can be an especially scary time for pedestrians, it seems. Research has shown that Halloween is an exceptionally dangerous time for people to walk the streets – not because of undead ghouls, razor blades hidden in apples, or the annual return of Michael Myers, but because of car accidents.
A study in 2019 by medical experts from the University of British Columbia found that significantly more pedestrians are hit by cars on Halloween compared to other nights.
They found that 608 pedestrian fatalities occurred on the 42 Halloween evenings they looked at, whereas 851 pedestrian fatalities occurred on the 84 control evenings. That means that the risk of a pedestrian dying from a car collision was 43 percent higher on Halloween compared to other evenings.
Research by the CDC in 1997 reached similar findings, concluding that the number of childhood pedestrian deaths increased fourfold on Halloween evenings when compared with all other evenings.
The reason for this notable increase is pretty obvious: evil spirits in the air. Not really – it’s simply because Halloween sees trick-or-treaters walking around residential neighborhoods. More people walking the street means higher chances of a collision with a vehicle. Many of these door-to-door wanderers will also be kids, no doubt buzzing from excitement and sugary candy with little concern for road safety.
Rest assured, however, that the researchers don’t believe that banning Halloween is the answer.
“Halloween trick-or-treating encourages creativity, physical activity, and neighborhood engagement. Trick-or-treating should not be abolished in a misguided effort to eliminate Halloween-associated risk,” the study authors write.
Instead, the researchers simply hope to promote greater awareness of the problem. They also encourage policymakers, physicians, and parents to make residential streets safer on Halloween by introducing measures like temporary speed limits and limiting on-street parking.
Stay safe out there – and keep it spooky.