Forget poisoned candy, cars are the real killer on Halloween

On Halloween, as families do something fairly unheard of in many American suburbs — walk — children are hit and killed by drivers at a rate three times the average day.

That's according to an analysis of government highway safety data by The Washington Post. For children between four- and eight-years-old, the rate is even higher, at ten times the usual daily average, another study by JAMA Pediatrics found.

The upticks are especially alarming considering the already high rate of pedestrian deaths at the hands of drivers every year. There were 6,227 pedestrians killed on US roads in 2018, the Governors Highway Safety Association estimated, a number that's risen 41% over the last decade.

"These high levels are no longer a blip but unfortunately a sustained trend," the organization said in a press release in February. "We can't afford to let this be the new normal."

SUVs likely carry some of the blame. As cheap gas fuels Americans love of large vehicles, sales of pickup trucks, SUVs and crossovers continue to surge, much to the chagrin of domestic automakers. Not only are short children harder to spot from an SUV's tall vantage point, pedestrians are more likely to die when hit by a taller, larger vehicle.

In order to stay safe during the festive night out, researchers at JAMA recommend what many city planners note can reduce fatalities and injuries at any time of the year — especially as the end of daylight saving time contributes to an uptick in crashes.

"Event-specific interventions that may prevent Halloween child pedestrian fatalities include traffic calming and automated speed enforcement in residential neighborhoods," they write. "Pedestrian visibility could be improved by limiting on-street parking and incorporating reflective patches into clothing. But restricting these interventions to 1 night per year misses the point."

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