Fall is the Deadliest Season for Pedestrians

Kimberly Bean
Kimberly Bean
Published on September 18, 2017

Across the United States, the leaves are turning crimson and gold, and the air is getting crisper. Our thoughts are turning to the end-of-the-year holidays. It can be downright distracting! That’s why, perhaps, that fall is when the country experiences the largest number of pedestrian fatalities, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTSA).

Adults age 64 and older account for the largest number of pedestrian fatalities, kids under age 16 make up the second-largest group. Let’s take a look at three fall events that contribute to the high number of child pedestrian fatalities.

Back to School

Slower speeds in school zones and regulations about passing school busses help keep kids safe when they’re near their schools. But, one-third of all child pedestrian fatalities happen after school.

And, according to the American Automobile association, those accidents happen between 3 and 7 p.m. Kids are easily distracted, so it’s up to adult drivers to be mindful and pay attention when they drive through neighborhoods and near parks and other places where children tend to congregate.

In fact, it is safest to slow down in these areas. “A pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling at 25 mph is nearly two-thirds less likely to be killed compared to a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling just 10 mph faster,” say the experts at AAA.

They also caution us to pay attention when vehicles in front of us stop. Don’t shoot past them to go around; they may be stopping to allow pedestrians to cross.

Got young kids? Remind them consistently of pedestrian safety rules:

  • Always use a crosswalk.
  • Look both ways, TWICE, before crossing the street.
  • Make eye contact with a driver who stops to allow you to cross. Make sure the driver actually sees you.
  • Never chase a ball, pet, or anything else into the street.
  • Never play in, under, or around parked vehicles.

Daylight Savings

There’s more to Daylight Savings than setting your clock back an hour in the fall. Carnegie Mellon University scientists claim that pedestrians are three times more likely to be killed by a vehicle when we “fall behind” in autumn (this year we’ll do that before going to bed on Saturday, Nov. 4).

“The change that’s going to occur [when we set our clocks back] is going to have some pronounced effects on your risks of walking between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.,” says Carnegie Mellon’s Dr. David Gerard.

“Basically, these are the hours when it’s just getting dark. But people walking and people driving won’t have adjusted. The baseline risk for getting killed is almost tripled.”

He goes on to say that pedestrians are at the most risk on the evening after we make the switch. The risk remains high for the two weeks following, until drivers have adjusted to having less daylight during their evening commute.

Trick or Treat!

Halloween is tons of fun for kids but not always for their parents. But checking the goody bag for tainted candy is just one concern.

“Kids have a greater chance of being fatally injured by a car on Halloween than any other day of the year, including the Fourth of July and New Year’s Day,” according to State Farm® Insurance and Sperling’s BestPlaces.

The study reveals that most of the fatalities happened in the middle of a block to kids age 12 to 15. Most drivers were between the ages of 15 and 25.

The deadliest hours on Halloween? Between 6 and 7 p.m.

Halloween is a great time to mind young children of the safety rules and for cautioning new drivers to be extra alert. No playing with cellphones or the radio, and keep passengers in their seats and quiet.

Want to give your trick or treater extra protection? Use reflective tape on costumes, shoes, and goody bags and give them small flashlights or glow sticks to carry.

Stay safe out there!

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