Over the holiday weekend, the California Highway Patrol reported four deadly accidents, one of those included 19-year-old Esteban Sanchez Jr. who had drifted off of the roadway and overturned his vehicle at Panama Lane and Highway 43 on Sunday. And as law enforcement explains, those crashes are a growing concern. 23ABC’s Bayne Froney has more on how much those numbers have grown.
It was a holiday weekend filled with tragedy as the Bakersfield California Highway Patrol reported four deadly crashes, killing six people, two of which did were not wearing seatbelts.
“Had they had their seatbelts on, that could have been a different outcome. They could have been alive today," explained Robert Rodriguez, public information officer for the California Highway Patrol.
There have been 11 more deadly crashes so far in 2020 compared to 2019 on California highways.
While the highway patrol can’t tell for sure why there has been an increase in fatal accidents, Rodriguez said it could have something to do with the pandemic.
“These are troublesome times, but if you’re not focused on driving. I know that there are a lot of things that are going on in this world, it could be their phone it could be something else, but when you’re behind the wheel, focus on driving.”
According to Rodriguez, there were only 24 arrests for DUI’s over the holiday weekend, while last year there were 39 which may have something to do with the fact that not as many people were traveling this year due to COVID-19.
“There is no one particular reason why this happens," said Rodriguez. "I know that we did have a lesser amount of traffic.”
According to the Bakersfield Police Department, they too have seen an increase in fatal accidents this year. There were only 22 fatal accidents in 2019 while in 2020 that number has risen to 39 so far. Of these, three involved alcohol or drugs, six involved motorcycles, five involved bicycles, and 13 involving pedestrians.
“Especially for the pedestrian ones, typically it’s a pedestrian outside of a crosswalk or crossing somewhere or being somewhere they shouldn’t be, not wearing lighter colored clothing, things like that. Things that they could do to help themselves by crossing safely,” said Sgt. Ken Sporer of the Bakersfield Police Department.
Both BPD and CHP want to remind drivers, especially during the holiday season, to stay focused on the roads, to not drink and drive, and to always remember to buckle up.
“We want you to make it home safely,” said Sgt. Sporer.
Officials said to always be aware of your surroundings while driving and if you have been drinking, ask a friend or call a ride-share service to get home safely.