Trick-or-treating in Phoenix especially risky, say safety experts

Experience AZ | 18 Oct |

Some of the deadliest streets in the country. Less light to see by. Excited kids running around with their costume tripping them up. Trick-or-treating in metro Phoenix can be especially scary for kids and their parents.

 “At Halloween, we see everything from burns to cuts to kids falling but the big thing is that we have an increase in pedestrian injuries,’’ said Tracey Fejt, (pronounced fate) trauma outreach coordinator for Banner Children’s. Fejt works with pediatric safety programs at Cardon Children’s Medical Center, Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix and Banner Thunderbird Medical Center.

“So many kids are hit by cars on Halloween night.’’

Metro Phoenix already has the distinction of having some of the most perilous streets for pedestrians. Arizona is No. 9 in a nonprofit’s report of the 20 most dangerous streets for walking. Large areas of Phoenix, portions of Glendale and Tolleson were identified as being particularly bad.

Halloween is also recognized as being especially risky: it gets dark earlier; there’s extra traffic on the streets; kids trick-or-treating and darting from house to house.

A study last year in the Journal of American Medical Association Pediatrics found that Halloween can be deadly for pedestrians and children face the greatest danger. It showed a 43-percent higher risk of pedestrian deaths on Halloween night than on other nights near that date.

In Arizona, the most recent figures available from the state Department of Transportation shows that 12 pedestrian-related crashes occurred on Halloween, more than twice the daily rate.

“There are just so many factors that add up to this being a dangerous time for kids. The afternoon commute begins earlier because people are going home to hand out candy or go to parties.

‘It’s dark out. And the kids are so excited. They are bouncing around everywhere, and their costumes can make it difficult for them to walk or see,’’ Fejt says.

Fejt offers these tips to keep Halloween the right kind of scary for kids who are trick-or-treating and having fun:

• Costumes: Make sure kids’ costumes can be seen, either through choosing light-colored clothing or using reflective tape or glow sticks. Also make sure that a child can be seen from the back as well.

• Safe walking: Parents should encourage kids not to cut across streets but to use crosswalks instead or at least cross at the street corners.

• Look out: Put electronic devices down, keep heads up and walk, don’t run, across the street. Make eye contact with drivers before crossing in front of them.

• Be on the watch for cars:  Watch for cars that are turning or backing up. Teach children to never dart out into the street or cross between parked cars.

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