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Pedestrian Safety Doesn’t Have To Be a Nightmare

The spike in crashes involving children on Halloween reflects a bigger crisis: U.S. streets have become increasingly hostile to those on foot or on bikes. Here’s how to stop the killing.  

Trick-or-treaters cross a street in Salem, Massachusetts, on Halloween 2020.

Trick-or-treaters cross a street in Salem, Massachusetts, on Halloween 2020.

Photographer: Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

A frightening statistic makes the rounds every year around this time: In the U.S., kids under 17 are three times more likely to die in traffic on Halloween than any other day of the year.

That figure reflects the surge of trick-or-treaters taking to streets that are not well designed for people walking, especially after dark, with predictably deadly results. But it’s also just one facet of a much larger pedestrian safety crisis that’s been developing over decades. The U.S. has among the industrialized world’s worst traffic safety outcomes, with almost 40,000 people dying on our roads every year. While our peers continue to make their streets safer, with thousands of lives saved each year in countries ranging from Italy to Canada to Mexico,, the U.S. is regressing. The impact is even worse for people walking: U.S. pedestrians are dying at a rate two times higher than most other industrialized countries.