It's been a deadly year for pedestrians on Bakersfield roads. Thursday police kicked off a new project aimed at keeping people safe.
Since 2014, twice the number of people walking and riding bikes have died on Kern county roads, but authorities are working to change that. Sgt. Ryan Kroeker, a spokesman for BPD, said education could help prevent these death.
"On the majority of these cases, whether it's a pedestrian or somebody driving there's some kind of law violation that occurs," said Sgt. Kroeker.
The initiatives started Thursday and is aim at cracking down on jaywalking and drivers not following the Rules of the Road.
Scott Krischak has worked on Union Avenue for three years. He says it's dangerous.
"It can get kind of ugly. Yeah, like I said, I've seen two people be killed in the last two years and at least six seriously injured," said Krischak.
Sgt. Kroeker said pedestrian deaths in town have increased each of the last five years. So far 21 people have been killed this year compared to 16 last year and 49 total over the last 4 years.
"So we do a statistical data driven analysis of what's causing these things then we go out and trying to address those issues by educating the public," explained Sgt. Ryan Kroeker.
Bakersfield Police officers plan to have extra enforcement this holiday season in the area between Union Avenue on the east, Gosford Road on the west, 24th Street on the north and White Lane on the south.
But Krischak doesn't think it's enough. He thinks the city can do more.
Krischak said, "If you could get rid of this [center] island [on Union Avenue]; now you have seven lanes of traffic to try to cross. Three going one way three going the other and people making a left turn, that would almost eliminate jaywalking overnight because you can't do it. With the island now, they're safe, a couple of minutes until the traffic clears."
Bakersfield Police officers have these tips to avoid being in a pedestrian-vehicle collision :
- 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.
- 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-left before crossing a street.
Drivers should yield to pedestrians, even if the pedestrian is in the roadway and the driver has the right of way.
Sgt. Ryan Kroeker said the enforcement will take place from December 21 until January.