BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — UPDATE: According to the CHP, "On September 13, 2019, a pedestrian enforcement operation was conducted on Niles at Webster Streets and Roberts Lane at Plymouth Avenue focusing on drivers and pedestrians who were violating right-of-way laws. Because of this effort, 73 citations were issued, 4 verbal warnings were issued, and an untold number of citizens were educated on the importance of pedestrian safety."
The CHP strongly encourages members of the community to follow basic safe practices:
- Drivers should be on the lookout for and yield the right-of-way to pedestrians.
- Drivers should slow down when in an area where pedestrians are likely to be.
- Never pass a car stopped for pedestrians. It’s against the law and highly dangerous for those crossing the street.
- Pedestrians should cross at the corner, at crosswalks, or intersections wherever possible. This is where drivers expect to see pedestrians.
- Pedestrians should look both ways for traffic before crossing, make eye contact with the driver, and make certain cars are yielding before crossing. Having the right-of-way does not prevent you from being seriously injured by a driver who is not paying attention. Remember, pedestrians don’t have armor!
- Pedestrians should wear bright colored, reflective clothing and use a flashlight when walking during hours of darkness - Be visible!
The California Highway Patrol will be monitoring the East Bakersfield area, issuing warnings for any driver or pedestrian that isn't following safe of lawful practices. They say there has been a lot of concern in the community regarding this matter and they want to do their part to keep it safe.
Since January 1st this year, CHP has investigated five deadly crashes and 59 injury crashes involving pedestrians.
"We want to improve pedestrian safety and bring awareness today," said Robert Rodriguez of the CHP. "I know we've had bad crashes as of late but this part of our ongoing efforts."
Due to the increase in deadly crashes involving pedestrians, CHP is conducting a pedestrian enforcement period.
"We will be issuing citations and verbal warnings but again this is something that we want to use to educate the public so we can reduce the amount of deaths and injuries attributed to pedestrians and bicyclists," added Rodriguez.
For one mother, pedestrian safety is especially important.
"I enjoy walking my daughter to school but I shouldn't have to fear it. Neither should any other parent or any other child," said Angela McKenzie.
She shared videos with 23ABC of multiple times she's felt unsafe walking her daughter to school.
"We finally go to cross there and once again a school bus has cut across the crossing walk. On most mornings we end up getting pushed out the crosswalk and walking on Fairfax instead of the sidewalk," she said. "This is a different morning. You'll see'em cut each other off, pull out in front of each other. I'm worried about even the drivers in the car what's gonna happen to one of them."
McKenzie hopes increased patrol, especially in school zones, will alert both drivers and walkers to be more safe and alert.
"I mean just their presence alone would go a long way. Who doesn't see a cop and go 'oh I need to slow down' or who doesn't check to make sure they're abiding by the speed limit. Who doesn't check to make sure they're driving properly when you see an officer."
CHP will not only be issuing warnings but also educating the public on the rules at marked and unmarked crossings.
Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety. According to CHP, if there is a marked or unmarked area in your neighborhood that you feel is unsafe for pedestrians or drivers, you can report a traffic complaint to their department.