Really Scary! Pediatric Pedestrian Fatalities 10x Higher on Halloween

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
"Halloween Parade 2014" by GoToVan is licensed under CC BY 2.0Dr. John A. Staples, MD
Clinical Assistant Professor
University of British Columbia

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: At this time last year, my co-author Candace Yip and I noticed an impressive number of advertisements for Halloween-themed parties at bars taped to lamp-posts. We wondered if the combination of dark costumes, dark evenings, alcohol and trick-or-treaters made the streets more dangerous for pedestrians.

To see if our hunch was correct, we examined 42 years of data on all fatal vehicle crashes in the United States between 1975 and 2016. We compared the number of pedestrian fatalities between 5 p.m. and midnight on Halloween with the number during the same hours on control days one week earlier and one week later. We found that 14 pedestrian deaths occurred on the average Halloween, while only 10 pedestrian deaths occurred on the average control evening. This corresponded to a 43% increase in the relative risk of pedestrian fatality on Halloween.

Among children aged 4 to 8 years of age, the risk of death was ten times higher on Halloween evening compared to control evenings. Risks were highest around 6pm, which is prime trick-or-treating time. Absolute risks were small and declined throughout the four decades of the study, but the relative risk increase on Halloween persisted throughout the entire study interval.  Continue reading