Pedestrian deaths are on the rise in Kern County and California, according to the Bakersfield Police Department.
In 2016, 867 pedestrians were killed and more than 14,000 were injured on California roadways alone. Since 2012, pedestrian deaths have increased by nearly 33 percent, growing substantially faster than any other type of traffic-related death, BPD statistics show.
And in the City of Bakersfield, 47 pedestrians have been killed and another 473 pedestrians have been injured over the past three years.
This month for Pedestrian Safety Month, Chain | Cohn | Stiles, along with local and state agencies and community partners throughout Kern County, are urging pedestrians and drivers alike to be aware of each other at all times, and share the road responsibly.
“We all have a responsibility watch out for everyone’s well-being while walking, cycling, and driving,” said Matt Clark, senior partner and attorney at Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “More often than not, these accidents are preventable. Pedestrian safety depends on safe walking habits, and safe driving habits as well.”
As an example, 12 pedestrians were killed when crossing the street outside of a crosswalk last year.
This month, Bakersfield Police Department is sending out special unit officers to patrol areas with the highest incidences of pedestrian collisions in Bakersfield. Officers are on the lookout for unsafe pedestrian crossings, as well as poor driving. Those areas include:
- Union Avenue between Brundage Lane and 21st Street.
- Wible Road and New Stine between White Lane and Stockdale Highway.
- Ming Avenue between Hughes Lane and Gosford Road.
In February, the City of Bakersfield announced a “Bicyclist and Pedestrian Safety Plan,” a partnership with California Department of Transportation to examine the city’s roadways and determine which are the most dangerous to bicyclists and pedestrians. The goal was to recommend design improvements, including more bike lanes, more signage, and new pedestrian and bike paths away from traffic.
For years, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has advocated and fought to raise awareness of bicycle, pedestrian and driver safety throughout the streets Bakersfield and Kern County. Each fall, Chain | Cohn | Stiles partners with Bike Bakersfield to give away hundreds of free bicycle lights and over 100 safety helmets throughout Kern County.
This month and always, keep in mind these safety tips to keep everyone on our streets safe, whether you’re walking, riding a bike, or driving:
- Be obvious and predictable, crossing at crosswalks or intersections only, walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible if there is no sidewalk
- Make eye contact with drivers; never assume a driver sees you
- Look left-right-left before stepping into a crosswalk. Having a green light or the “WALK” signal does not mean that it is safe to cross
- Look for cars baking up, including white backup lights or signs the vehicle is running.
- Don’t dart out between parked cars
- Avoid distractions. Don’t walk and use your phone at the same time
- Wear bright clothing during the day and reflective materials at night
- Be predictable. Follow the rules of the road, cross at crosswalks or intersections, and obey signs and signals.
- Walk facing traffic, and if there is no sidewalk, walk as far from traffic as possible.
- Pay attention to the traffic moving around you. This is not the time to be texting or talking on a cell phone.
- Make eye contact with drivers as they approach. Never assume a driver sees you.
- Wear bright clothing during the day and reflective materials (or use a flashlight) at night.
- Look left, right, and then left again before crossing a street.
- Look out for pedestrians, especially in hard-to-see conditions such as at night or in bad weather.
- Slow down and be prepared to stop when turning or entering a crosswalk where pedestrians are likely to be.
- Stop at the crosswalk stop line to give drivers in other lanes an opportunity to see and yield to the pedestrians, too.
- Be cautious when backing up; pedestrians, especially young children, can move across your path.
If you or someone you know is injured in a bicycle or pedestrian accident at the fault of someone else, please contact the lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.