Officials warn of scary Halloween for pedestrians

Halloween is a night intended to be a delight for kids, but AAA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration officials are warning the yearly celebration has also turned into the deadliest night of the year for pedestrians.

And this year there’s sort of a “perfect storm” of potential dangers on Bay Area streets.

With Halloween falling on a Friday, adults will be doing their own forms of trick-or-treating, but on this Halloween evening in San Francisco they’ll also be mixing with thousands of Giants fans reveling in a post-parade party celebrating the team’s third World Series title in five years.

Just as the sun sets there will be a combination of kids and adults on foot taking to the streets on their trick-or-treat rounds, with other adults driving home from parties and bars.

Even before the Giants World Series celebration was set for Friday afternoon, federal and local agencies, and other groups were warning about the dangers for trick-or-treaters.

Jennifer Huebner, a manager with AAA Traffic Safety Programs, cautions:

“When Halloween falls during the middle of the work week, parties and events are spread out over several days to include the weekend.  With Halloween on a Friday this year, most festivities are expected to take place that evening putting a large number of adult partygoers on the road the same night as trick-or-treaters.”

In San Francisco, the combination of a Friday night Halloween capping a day of celebrating the Giants World Series victory comes as 15 pedestrians have already been killed in The City — 14 on city streets and one on a freeway off ramp — so far this year.

Nicole Schneider, executive director of Walk San Francisco, a nonprofit working to make San Francisco’s streets safer for pedestrians, says that’s two more pedestrian deaths than a year ago at this time.

Speaking of Halloween, Schneider told SFBay:

“It’s more important that drivers be cognizant of their speed and that there will be more people out and walking about.”

Two of the  pedestrian deaths this year have taken place in October, including one last week where Priscila Moreto, a 67-year-old city worker, was hit and killed in a crosswalk near City Hall.

Schneider says Walk San Francisco  plans a “Call to Action” next Friday to pay tribute to Moreto and to focus attention on the number of people killed on the city’s streets:

“There’s still a lot of work to do.”

To keep kids out of Harms Way on Halloween night, cities across the Bay Area are planning events to encourage trick-or-treaters to stay off the streets, and most agencies will have extra officers on patrol.

In Santa Clara, the city is offering a “Spooktacular” at the city’s Youth Activity Center from 3:00-6:00pm.  Admission is free and the party includes entertainment, treats and other events.

And in Santa Cruz, to keep kids safe and to reduce potential trouble from what police are terming “alcohol-fueled” adults more than 100 Santa Cruz police officers and officers from other agencies will be enforcing a “Safety Enhancement Zone” in the city’s downtown area  from 12:01 a.m. Thursday through early Saturday morning.

The zone includes closed streets, restricted parking and stepped up enforcement by officers.  Last year Santa Cruz police say they made 32 arrests on Halloween evening.

Besides Halloween coming on a Friday, officials are also reminding people that Sunday is the start of daylight savings time, meaning it’s time to set the clocks back one hour, and it will start getting dark by 6 p.m.


John Marshall is an SFBay editor and producer and writer for San Francisco’s KGO Radio.  Follow him on Twitter @breakingnewsman.