Auto Club: Young Children Have More Than Twice the Danger of Pedestrian Deaths and Injuries on Halloween

Extra Caution Urged on the First Day After Daylight Savings Time Change

(LOS ANGELES, October 28, 2005) — Children aged 12 and under are more than twice as likely to suffer death or injury from being hit by a car on Halloween than on other comparable days in October and November, according to an analysis by the Automobile Club of Southern California. The Auto Club warns motorists and pedestrians to be extra careful on that day. An additional concern is that Halloween falls on the day after Daylight Savings Time ends.

The analysis of California Highway Patrol death and injury statistics for 1995–2004 found children under age 13 are 134 percent more likely to be killed or injured as pedestrians between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Halloween compared to other comparable days in October and November. Last year, Halloween fell on the day that Daylight Savings Time ended and there was a particularly large 156 percent increase in deaths and injuries.

Over the ten-year period analyzed, 73 more children were killed or injured. Adults and children aged 13 and over have a 44 percent higher likelihood of being hit by a motor vehicle on Halloween than on other comparable October or November days.

"These numbers are startling because they show that despite efforts to make young children safe on Halloween, there is still a dramatic jump in deaths and injuries while they are walking from house to house," said Steven Bloch, Ph.D., senior research associate of the Auto Club and the researcher who performed the analysis.

The increased danger of death and injury is not limited to pedestrians on Halloween. The number of all traffic deaths and injuries, including vehicle passengers and bicyclists, increased 44 percent for children under age 13 on Oct. 31. That increase represents 134 additional children killed or injured than would be expected. Those aged 13 and older had an increased death and injury rate of 24 percent.

"This year can be particularly dangerous because Halloween falls on the day after clocks are turned back from Daylight Savings Time to Standard Time," Bloch said. "Young children out trick-or-treating are particularly at risk because they are usually out near dusk or later when visibility is lowest. Sunset will be occurring an hour earlier than we are accustomed to. The key for drivers and pedestrians is to 'see and be seen.'"

The Auto Club recommends the following trick-or-treat tips:

  • Parents or an older teen should accompany young trick-or-treaters. If a parent or adult cannot accompany children, they should trick-or-treat with a group of friends.
  • Carry a flashlight both to light the way and to make children visible to motorists.
  • If trick-or-treating at night, wear a light colored costume with reflective tape.
  • Using face make-up is safer than wearing a mask. If a mask is worn, remove it before crossing the street to improve the ability to see oncoming traffic.
  • Plan the trick-or-treat route in advance and pick well-lit streets. Parents should be familiar with streets on which children will be trick-or-treating. Children should only go to homes where residents are known and have outside lights on as a sign of welcome. Children should not enter homes or apartments unless accompanied by an adult.
  • Cross streets only at corners, not between parked cars or in the middle of the block.

The Auto Club recommends the following Halloween safety tips for motorists:

  • Stay alert for children crossing streets at all locations, not just corners and intersections.
  • Drive slowly in residential areas.
  • Don't run red lights. Give yourself time to reach your destination.
  • Check vehicles' headlights, taillights, brake lights and turn signals to ensure they are in proper working condition.
  • Clean windows and headlights to improve visibility.

The Automobile Club of Southern California, the largest AAA affiliate, has been serving members since 1900. Today, Auto Club members benefit by the organization's roadside assistance, financial products, travel agency and trip planning services, highway and transportation safety programs, insurance products and services and automotive pricing, buying and financing programs. Information about these products and services is available on the Auto Club's web site at www.aaa.com.

###