Local Police Departments Receive Hundreds of Thousands in Grants to Improve Traffic Safety

October 27, 2021 | 6:00 am


Local police departments have received hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants to improve traffic safety in Bakersfield and Kern County.

The Bakersfield Police Department received two grants from the California Office of Traffic Safety totaling $433,000 — the Selective Traffic Enforcement Program grant for $400,000, and the Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Program grant for $33,000. Specifically, the grant money will be used for DUI checkpoints, enforcement operations, community presentations, and much more.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles is highlighting the specific traffic safety programs you’ll likely be seeing locally in the coming year.

  • DUI checkpoints and patrols specifically focused on suspected impaired drivers. Our community has seen at least 4,000 DUI arrests made each year, according to the Kern County District Attorney’s Office – nearly 12 DUI arrests per day. Kern County ranks worst in the state for DUI crashes resulting in injuries, and second most in the United States. And during this pandemic, fatal crash rates have spiked, with speeding, lower seatbelt use, and impaired driving to blame.
  • Enforcement operations focused on top violations that cause crashes: speeding, failure to yield, stop sign and/or red-light running, and improper turning or lane changes. The number of people killed by drivers running red lights has hit a 10-year high, according to a study by Automobile Club of Southern California (AAA). Nearly 1,000 people were killed in a year, according to the most recent statistics available — that’s a 30 percent increase from 10 years ago.
  • Enforcement operations focused on suspected distracted drivers in violation of California’s hands-free cell phone law. Each year more than 400,000 people are injured and more than 3,000 people are killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers, making up nearly 10% of all fatal crashes, according to the latest figures from The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In California, nearly 20,000 crashes took place that involved distracted driving, which resulted in more than 100 deaths and 13,500 injuries, according to CHP.
  • Bicycle and pedestrian safety enforcement operations focused on driver behaviors that put vulnerable road users at risk. A new nationwide study that lists Bakersfield as the No. 2 most dangerous metropolitan area in the United States to be a pedestrian. The “Dangerous by Design” study by Smart Growth America analyzed government data from 2010 to 2019 to create a Pedestrian Danger Index. In that time period, 260 pedestrians died in Bakersfield.
  • Community education presentations on traffic safety issues such as distracted driving, DUI, speeding, and bicycle and pedestrian safety. The increase also comes at a time of another sobering statistic: From 2016 through 2018 in California, more cyclists died in traffic accidents across the state than during any three-year period in the past 25 years, according to California Healthline. Surging popularity of bike shares and fitness cycling are part of the reasons.

Meanwhile in northern Kern County, the Delano Police Department also received a grant to combat dangerous and illegal driving behavior. Delano Police received $50,000 from the California Road Safety Authority for DUI checkpoints, patrols catch drivers who violate California’s hands-free mobile phone law, bicycle and pedestrian safety, community education presentations on road safety issues, and officer training or recertification. These efforts will continue through September 2022.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form, text, or chat with us at chainlaw.com.

Hands on the wheel: We can all do our part to end distracted driving

April 5, 2017 | 9:41 am


Plain and simple, distracted driving is a deadly behavior. In fact, federal estimates suggest that distraction contributes to 16 percent of all fatal crashes, leading to around 5,000 deaths every year.

It’s no wonder that 80 percent of drivers cite distraction as a serious problem and a behavior that makes them feel less safe on the road, according to AAA Foundation.

The good news is we can all make a difference — a drivers’ safety ultimately rests in their hands and those of their fellow motorists. And this month, during Distracted Driving Awareness Month, the personal injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles would like to call on everyone to drive distraction-free, and speak up if you’re in a vehicle with a distracted driver.

“You cannot drive safely unless you’re paying full attention to the road, and on the other vehicles around you,” said David Cohn, managing partner at Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “We can all play a part in the fight to save lives and prevent injuries by ending distracted driving, keeping our hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.”

Here’s what you can do to eliminate distracted driving from your travels (courtesy of AARP).

  • Unplug: Keep your cell phone on silent and where you can’t see it light up for every notification you receive. If a phone call or text message is really important, it’s best to pull over into a safe location before using your phone.
  • Refuel: Drowsy driving is distracted driving, so never drive when you’re too tired.
  • Focus: When you’re behind the wheel, pay attention to what’s happening all around your vehicle. Frequently scan your mirrors and watch your speed.
  • Secure your cargo: Prevent loose items in your car from startling you in the event of sudden braking by securing your cargo. Also, never place smaller items on your lap or on the floor near the driver-side foot pedals.

Here in Kern County, local law enforcement agencies and community groups are partnering to help make our roads safer by highlighting the dangers of being distracted while driving.

Specifically, Bakersfield Police Department is instituting zero tolerance enforcement efforts to discourage distracted driving. Officers will have a special emphasis in April on enforcing all cell phone and distracted driving laws, according to the department, deploying extra traffic officers in city locations where higher numbers of traffic collisions occur. Starting in January, drivers no longer are allowed to hold their cellphones in their hands for any reason, including using any of a phone’s apps, such as music playlists. Fines start at $162 for first time offenders.

A recent national survey found that nearly one-third of drivers reported sending a text message or e-mail while driving, and 42 percent said had read a text or e-mail. A California Office of Traffic Safety study also determined that 1 out of 8 drivers on the road is paying as much attention to his or her smartphone as to the road. State road safety officials estimate that some form of distracted driving is a factor in 80 percent of crashes.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is asking drivers to take a pledge to drive phone-free today: never texting or talking on the phone while driving, speaking out if the driver in your car is distracted, and encouraging friends and family to drive phone-free.

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If you or someone you know is injured in a crash due to the fault of a suspected distracted driver, please call the car accident lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000 or visit chainlaw.com for a free consultation on your case.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles-sponsored ‘Project Light Up The Night’ focuses on bicycle safety

November 30, 2016 | 9:36 am


The sun begins to set on the streets of Bakersfield well before 5 p.m. these days, making safety paramount for those exercising, walking their pets, or driving about in the evening hours.

For bicyclists, in particular, the nighttime can pose a significant risk. It’s important for drivers to be aware of cyclists sharing the road with them, but also for bike riders to have the proper safety equipment and be easily seen.

Bike Bakersfield — in partnership with Bakersfield-based injury and accident law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles and PG&E — are hoping to make Kern County’s roads a little safer for drivers and cyclists alike through the Project Light Up The Night, where volunteers hand out hundreds of free bicycle lights in various locations throughout Bakersfield.

The giveaways will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. every Wednesday (except Dec. 14) until Jan. 25. Riders must bring their bikes to receive one set of lights per person. The four distribution locations are as follows:

  • Bike Bakersfield: 1708 Chester Ave.
  • Corner of Niles Street and Mt. Vernon Avenue
  • Corner of North Chester Avenue and Roberts Lane
  • Planz Park: Planz Road and South H Street

In California, the law states that any cyclist riding at night needs to have a white headlamp, a red rear reflector, white or yellow reflectors on the pedals, and white or yellow reflectors on each side. But when it comes to night riding, it pays to go well beyond the law to make your bike noticeable. A blinking red light, for example, is much more likely to get the attention of a passing motorist who might otherwise not notice you.

In Bakersfield, the Bakersfield Police Department has also joined the battle to make our community safer for cyclists. The department recently was awarded a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety for a year-long program for bicycle and pedestrian safety and education to prevent traffic related deaths and injuries. The number of people killed has climbed nearly 17 percent across the state with 3,176 killed in 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Particularly alarming is the six year rise in pedestrian and bicycle fatalities.

For those cycling at night, Chain | Cohn | Stiles wishes to provide you with the following additional safety tips:

  • Have multiple lights, varying from ones that alert other road users to your presence to lights that are strong enough to illuminate the road ahead. LED technology has transformed cycle lights.
  • Don’t ride in the gutter when riding in the dark as this is where the majority of road debris will go.
  • Remember to take spares on a night ride. Riding in the dark could hide hazards such as potholes and broken glass that can cause punctures or other mechanical problems.
  • Plan your route.
  • Ride with fellow cyclists so you can be seen more easily.
  • Don’t assume you have been seen by other road users.
  • Be prepared for mechanical issues. Make sure to carry enough tools, including spare inner tubes.
  • Wear bright colors such as white and yellow instead of black to make yourself more visible.

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If you or someone you know is involved in a bicycle 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 to submit a contact form.

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