A Scary Holiday for Pedestrians
Halloween presents one of the classic cases of risk misperception. Growing up, like most kids, I lived in terror of the vaporous threat of razor-bladed apples and butcher-knife wielding escapees from local insane asylums. But the real threat was right there in the road. As the Center for Disease Control has found in a much-referenced study, “the number of childhood pedestrian deaths increased fourfold among children on Halloween evenings when compared with all other evenings.” It’s not hard to imagine the reasons: Children clad in dark costumes, etc. Or, perhaps more to the point, drivers (perhaps liquored up) moving at improper speeds through residential neighborhoods. And pedestrians of all ages (but especially children) tend to have little idea of just how far away the driver of a car can see them (they tend to think it’s twice as far as it really is) — so maybe you should chuck out the Ninja costumes.
Trick-or-treating through New Jersey a few Halloweens ago with my nephews, I was appalled to notice a number of children simply being ferried from house to house in cavernous SUVs, which then sat idling as the children rang the doorbell and received their corn-syrup-ey treats. In true L.A. Story fashion, the behemoths would then literally drive a few dozen feet to the next house. Thus enters the classic cycle: The roads are perceived to be more dangerous, so more parents drive their kids, thus raising the very same risk.
The U.K.’s Ted Dewan and friends had an interesting method for reducing the Halloween risk: Staging a quite ghoulish mock crash on their street to calm (or frighten?) traffic.
This entry was posted on Friday, October 31st, 2008 at 7:24 am and is filed under Pedestrians, Traffic safety. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.