Back to School: Tips for getting your students to campus safely

September 8, 2021 | 10:52 am


As students return to school, parents have a lot of concerns about potential dangers on their children’s campuses, but it’s important to pay attention to potential dangers on the way to school, too.

“As parents, it’s critical for us to really teach our kids to be safe, not only on campus, but also in getting to school, too, whether it’s on foot, bicycle, bus, or in a vehicle,” said David Cohn, managing partner at Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “Drivers are not always going to see them, so it’s vital kids make sure they are keeping safety at the top of mind, all the time.”

Below are several safety tips for students and parents alike on how to get to school safe. But first, let’s talk about the problems we have in Kern County regarding driver and pedestrian safety:

No child should ever lose their life walking to or from school, but every year, these tragedies happen. In fact, more than 6,000 pedestrians die in motor vehicle collisions in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. That means that every 88 minutes, a pedestrian loses their life. A fatal accident is the worst-case scenario, but even when pedestrians survive, they may sustain severe, life-changing injuries.

A recent nationwide study — The “Dangerous by Design” study by Smart Growth America — lists Bakersfield as the No. 2 most dangerous metropolitan area in the United States to be a pedestrian. What makes Bakersfield so bad? The short answer is that our streets are designed primarily for the convenience of drivers, and not the safety of pedestrians. Learn more about Kern County’s pedestrian safety problem here.

Recently, the Bakersfield City Council approved pedestrian countdown timers for intersections several local intersections to help keep pedestrians safe when crossing the street. The timers will be added to 15 more intersections throughout Bakersfield which completes a 9-year project. They will go near high-volume areas, including schools and shopping centers. Once complete, a total of 436 intersections will have that safety feature. The timers will replace the existing “Walk-Don’t Walk” signals with a countdown timer, allowing pedestrians to better determine if they have enough time to safely cross the street.

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Here are some more safety tips to protect your children and make sure they remain safe through the school year, courtesy of California Office of Traffic Safety and other local safety agencies.

PREPARE

  • Always be on the lookout for children when traveling around schools, especially during pick-up and drop-off times.
  • Map out a safe way for your children to walk to school or to the bus stop. Work with other parents in the neighborhood to ensure that children in the neighborhood are supervised closely to and from school
  • Work with your neighbors and your child on identifying “safe houses,” or homes of neighbors who your child is familiar with if your child is scared or needs help on the way to and from school.
  • Point out places they should avoid, such as vacant lots, alleyways, and construction areas.
  • Encourage your children to use the “buddy system.”
  • Teach your children to always be aware of their surroundings. Be aware of slow moving vehicles or parked vehicles that appear to be occupied. Choose a different route or walk on the opposite side of the street.

TO AND FROM SCHOOL

    • Avoid distractions while driving like texting, talking on the phone, and eating.
    • If your child takes the bus, remind them to line up away from the curb and look both ways when getting on or off the bus. Children need to pay attention to traffic signals and use crosswalks with a crossing guard if available.
    • Know what to do around buses. Flashing yellow lights indicate the bus is preparing to stop and flashing red lights means stop. California law requires drivers in both directions to stop until the red lights are no longer flashing.
    • Teach your children to make sure the bus driver can see them before walking in front of the bus, and to never walk behind a bus.
    • If seat belts are available on the bus, buckle up. Don’t speak loudly or make loud noises that could distract the driver, and stay in your seat. Don’t put your head, arms or hands out the window.
    • For bicyclists, always wear a helmet that is fitted and secured properly. Use hand signals when turning, and stay in the bike lane whenever possible.

DRIVERS

  • When school bus red lights are flashing, there is no passing. Children are either entering or exiting the school bus when the red lights are flashing. You must stop from either direction until the children have safely crossed the street and the lights stop flashing.
  • Yellow flashing lights on a school bus warn you to slow down and prepare to stop.
  • Be alert and don’t be distracted when children are standing at a school bus stop. Children are often unpredictable and may dart out in front of traffic, not recognizing traffic hazards or risk.
  • Slow down and use extra caution when pedestrians are present – especially in school zones, and before and after school.

BUS PASSENGERS / CHILDREN

  • Arrive at the bus stop at least five minutes early and stand 10 feet away from the road.
  • Do not let your child play running games, or push, or shove at the bus stop.
  • If your child drops something near the bus, warn them to never, ever, pick it up. Instead, your child should tell the bus driver and wait for assistance to pick-up the dropped object.  If a child bends over to pick up a dropped object, they might not be seen by the bus driver and could be hurt.
  • Remind children to look to the right before they step off the bus. Drivers sometimes try to pass buses on the right.
  • If children must cross the street to get to the bus, remind them to wait for the bus driver to signal it is safe to cross. Do not get on or off the school bus until the bus driver says it is safe to do so.  If you miss the bus, do not run after it.
  • When walking, practice good pedestrian behavior and walk on the sidewalk, if there is one. If there is no sidewalk, walk single file, facing traffic, and stay on the shoulder as far off the road as possible.
  • Before crossing the street: Stop, look left, right and then left again. Cross at corners, crosswalks, or intersections wherever possible. This is where drivers expect to see pedestrians.

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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.

MADD Kern County hosts virtual ‘Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash’, presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles

October 14, 2020 | 6:00 am


For the seventh year, Kern County came together on Saturday, Oct. 10, in the fight against impaired driving to proclaim, “No More Victims!”

Bakersfield’s virtual Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash — presented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles — is Kern County’s chance to do something about drunk and drugged driving in our community. Since 2009, 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.

Like many nonprofits, MADD Kern County has severely been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, losing a large percentage of funding intended to fight against impaired driving in our community. In fact, MADD California has lost over 80% of annual revenue, forcing drastic cuts that continue to disrupt grassroots programs and services, officials said. Meanwhile, impaired driving, unfortunately, continues to be one of the leading causes of fatalities and injuries on our roadways.

In a unifying event, MADD California hosted a virtual Walk Like MADD ceremony on Oct. 10 using the #OneMADDCalifornia hashtag. The statewide virtual ceremony included CHP-Bakersfield officers, featuring Robert Rodriguez singing the national anthem, and local presenting sponsor Chain | Cohn | Stiles.

In Kern County, the event raised more than $42,000 to help fund local educational programs and prevention services, raise awareness of the DUI problem in our local communities, and provide support to local victims and survivors of drunken driving crashes. Statewide, the event raised more than $1.6 million!

You can watch the full ceremony at walklikemadd.org/bakersfield and on Facebook at “Bakersfield Virtual 2020 Walk Like MADD”.

“Our community annually comes together to fight this serious issue in Kern County, to remember the victims of these crimes, and demand change,” said Carla Pearson, victim services specialist for MADD Kern County. “MADD Kern County thanks our local community for helping for spread the message, and fundraise for vital local program. We all want a future of No More Victims.”

In what has become one of the largest fundraising walks and runs in town, the event brings together people from our community – surviving victims of crashes, families and friends of injured and deceased victims, law enforcement, prosecutors, first responders, advocates, and community leaders and members – to march, rally and run for the cause.

Presented by the local law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles, the local event was also supported by Chevron, Valley Strong Credit Union, Clinica Sierra Vista, Kern County Prosecutors Association, Good Samaritan Hospital, Sally Herald Accountancy Inc., and others.

Awards were given to race finishers and top fundraisers. They are as follows:

  • Fastest Male: Garret Sugimoto, Kern Regional Crime Lab
  • Fastest Female: Jessica Harrington, 23ABC News
  • Top Team: Madysyn & Kaleb’s Keepers
  • Top Fundraiser: Amber Morales
  • Top Law Enforcement Team: Kern County District Attorney’s Office

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MEDIA COVERAGE

PRE-EVENT MEDIA COVERAGE

Local families, attorneys to march against police misconduct in ‘Walk for Justice’

March 3, 2015 | 10:08 am


Note: To see media coverage of this event, scroll to the bottom.

Prominent attorneys will be joining local families in the “Walk for Justice” on Saturday, March 14, to speak out against local cases of police misconduct, wrongful death and civil rights violations.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorney Neil Gehlawat will be joining lawyers from the prominent Los Angeles-based firm Geragos & Geragos at the 1 p.m. march, which starts at 1700 Flower St. in east Bakersfield.

That’s near the site where David Silva lost his life on the night of May 7, 2013, when officers approached him as he lay on the grass across the street from Kern County Medical Center. Silva, a 33-year-old father of four, was severely beaten by seven baton-wielding officers, and died an hour later.

The two prominent law firms are working together on the Silva wrongful death case, as well as other Kern County cases against the Kern County Sheriff’s Department and Bakersfield Police Department. The civil lawsuit is ongoing. 

Silva’s family, joined by other families from local cases of police misconduct, are now advocating for an end to police brutality.

To read more about the Silva case, click here.

The marchers will be meeting at four locations where incidents of police brutality have taken place, and will leave flowers in remembrance of victim’s lives. Those victims also include Ronnie (Pops) Ledesma, David Turner and James De La Rosa. The march will end at Heritage Park.

“Be the voice for those who no longer have one,” organizers stated in a flier for the march.

Attorney Neil Gehlawat will be speaking about local cases, as well as a representative from Geragos & Geragos. Attorney Mark Geragos is representing the families of two men killed by Bakersfield police in separate incidents, including the killing of Ramiro James Villegas on Nov. 13. That claim seeks damages for violation of civil and constitutional rights, wrongful death, punitive damages and emotional injuries. It says Villegas got out of his vehicle and held his hands up after being cornered by officers into a light pole. Officers said Villegas reached toward his waistband, and the officers opened fire, killing him. No gun or other weapon was found in Villegas’ possession.

For more information on the march, visit the “Walk for Justice” Facebook event page by clicking here, or call 661-747-1110. The march is sponsored by “Concerned Citizens of Bakersfield #UnitedWeStand.”

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Media:

The Bakersfield Californian: March draws attention to deaths in encounters with law enforcement

KGET Channel 17 (NBC): Locals call for more accountability in law enforcement

Instagram: CCS’ Neil Gehlawat speaks at “Walk for Justice” event

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Police misconduct, police brutality and the denial of civil rights have the effect of undermining our country’s Constitution. Common forms of police misconduct include unnecessary use of force, false imprisonment, sexual harassment and assault, illegal searches and planting evidence, among other circumstances. If you or someone you know has been a victim of police misconduct or police brutality, call the Bakersfield police misconduct lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at 661-323-4000, or visit the law firm’s website at Chainlaw.com.

Annual Bakersfield walk brings awareness to traumatic brain injuries

February 24, 2015 | 9:58 am


Each year, about 2.4 million children and adults in the United States suffer from a traumatic brain injury and another 795,000 people sustain an acquired brain injury from non-traumatic causes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Currently, more than 5.3 million children and adults in the United States live with a lifelong disability as a result of traumatic brain injury. And in California alone, more than 350,000 Californian live with brain injury, which is the leading cause of death and disability in the United States that affects people of all ages, races, ethnicities and incomes.

“Chances are that you have a family member, friend, or business colleague who has sustained a brain injury, whether it was a traumatic injury from a sports concussion, fall, or motor vehicle accident, or an acquired injury from a stroke, brain tumor or aneurysm,” according the Brain Injury Association of California.

In an effort to raise awareness of traumatic brain injuries throughout Bakersfield and Kern County, the Brain Injury Association of California will host its eighth annual signature “Walk, Run & Ride for Brain Injury” on March 7 at Pioneer Village, 3801 Chester Ave.

The event brings people together to recognize the individuals living with brain injury, and remember those who were lost.

The Bakersfield personal injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles is proud to support the Brain Injury Association of California and the upcoming “Walk, Run & Ride for Brain Injury.” In fact, the lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles have extensive experience dealing with personal injury cases involving traumatic brain injuries, and have successfully obtained millions of dollars on behalf of victims.

Those who suffer brain injuries experience significant change in their otherwise normal lives; they may no longer be able to work, and some may even require around-the-clock support. Treating brain injuries may require multiple surgeries, ongoing therapy or around-the-clock care. Chain | Cohn | Stiles can step in and help when that burden is due to the fault of someone else.

According to Brain Injury Association of California, is the most misdiagnosed, misunderstood and underfunded type of injury/disease. Though advances in neurosurgery and research have saved thousands of lives, without appropriate level of specialized rehabilitation, many victims will not achieve their maximum outcome.

The “Walk, Run & Ride for Brain Injury” also helps raise funds for education, advocacy and prevention of traumatic brain injury.

If you’d like to join Chain | Cohn | Stiles and hundreds of others in Kern County to support the event, click here to register, sponsor, join a team, donate, or for more information.

“Brain injury is not an event or a final outcome; it is the beginning of a lifelong disease process and is a leading cause of death and disability,” according to the Brain Injury Association of California. “Brain injury is something most individuals don’t think about until it happens to them or someone they love. When it does, their lives quickly spin out of control and they need compassionate, informed guidance to navigate the intricate system of care. Our mission is to provide this guidance through help, hope and healing.”

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If you or a loved one suffer from a traumatic brain injury at the fault of someone else, call the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at 661-323-4000 or visit the website Chainlaw.com. For more information on traumatic brain injury cases, click here.