Halloween is fun because we get to be afraid of things that we know aren't really scary. But for little trick or treaters in the United States, the danger posed by reckless drivers and unsafe roads is real.
A 2012 study by insurance company State Farm found that motorists kill more children on Halloween than on any other day of the year. Reported LoHud:
From 1990 to 2010, 115 pedestrians under the age of 18 were killed by motor vehicles on Oct. 31, an average of 5.5 fatalities a year during that period. There are an average of 2.6 child pedestrian deaths other days of the year, the report found.
Above is a tweet from the Maryland State Highway Administration, which is loaning reflective vests for kids to wear tonight. The agency has a tip sheet for pedestrians and motorists, but holiday-themed PR campaigns are not a substitute for streets that are safe for walking 365 days a year.
Yet that doesn't stop us from victim-blaming. "Crowds of trick-or-treaters traveling the streets contribute to the increased risk," wrote LoHud.
The State Farm study also noted that more than 70 percent of crashes that kill kids on Halloween "occurred away from an intersection or crosswalk," implying that unsafe pedestrian behavior, rather than lack of pedestrian infrastructure, is the issue. State Farm advises parents and kids to "stick to neighborhoods with sidewalks." While this advice is easy to follow in some major cities, complete streets are not the norm in most of the country.
Suggesting pedestrians wear reflective tape and asking motorists to not kill people isn't getting the job done. To keep kids safe every day, we need streets designed to accommodate them.
Brad Aaron began writing for Streetsblog in 2007, after years as a reporter, editor, and publisher in the alternative weekly business. Brad adopted New York's dysfunctional traffic justice system as his primary beat for Streetsblog. He lives in Manhattan.