A new study confirms fears children risk being in a traffic accident as they go door to door collecting treats on Halloween night. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

Halloween: reducing risks for children

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October 31 is the day many children go door to door collecting candy and other treats but, at the same time, they increase their risk of having a traffic accident. The sun sets just before 6pm in most big Canadian cities on this day and most children go trick-or-treating just after that.

So it’s dark, there are slippery leaves on the streets, children are over excited, distracted by decorations on homes and and sometimes dart across the street before their parents can catch them.

43 per cent higher risk of death

A Canadian study of U.S. traffic statistics found the risk of a pedestrian fatality was 43 per cent higher on Halloween than it was on an evening one week before or one week after. Children aged between four and eight were 10 times more likely to die on Halloween. Although the statistics are for the U.S., conditions and habits on Halloween are the same in Canada.

Among the many distractions for children are bright Halloween decorations outside people’s houses. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

Several Canadian organizations have issued safety tips to try to prevent accidents. Among them, Toronto Hydro says:

Drivers and cyclists are encouraged to stay safe by:
Obeying the speed limit
Avoiding distractions while driving, including texting or eating
Reducing speed during inclement weather; leaves on the road can cause slippery conditions
Ensuring headlights, brake lights and signals are working. Headlights should be turned on at dusk
Using hazard lights or high beams if necessary to alert others of your presence
Trick-or-treaters and pedestrians are encouraged to stay safe by:
Never assuming right-of-way, as visibility to drivers is reduced at night, and always checking both ways before crossing the street
Trying to make eye contact with drivers before stepping off curb
Wearing costumes that are light reflective and bright in colour, and avoid those that reduce visibility
Avoiding masks that can reduce a child’s vision
Using flashlights or glow sticks to help increase visibility to motorists
Crossing at traffic signals, crosswalks and stop signs on busy roads, never jaywalking

Avoiding the risk

To avoid the risk of a traffic accident, some parents prefer to have parties in their own homes. Daycare centres and schools often have their own parties or small parades during the day, but good luck trying to get the kids to settle for just that. Many still want to go out trick-or-treating.

Then dealing with the candy mountains of candy they collect and want to consume is another story for another day.

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