Safe driving saves lives, protects citizens and helps prevent power outages

Posted at 8:33 AM, Dec 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-19 11:33:24-05
New Year's Eve is just around the corner and for many this means celebrating with friends and loved ones.
The Bakersfield Police Department is urging drivers to use caution on the roads and designate a sober driver.
According to BPD, the city hit a record for traffic fatalities this year. So far in 2016, there have been 40 fatal crashes, and typically there are several during the New Year's holiday. Pedestrian fatalities also have increased this year, totaling 15. 
BPD and PG&E are teaming up to remind residents to drive safely this holiday season. In addition to fatalities and injuries, motor vehicle incidents caused 143 power outages impacting more than 40,500 energy customers in Kern this year.
To promote a safe holiday season, BPD and PG&E share the following safe driving tips:   
  • Leave Hustle and Bustle Behind: Follow speed limits and remember traffic and congestion may force travelers to drive below posted limits. Also, leave a little early so you don't feel the need to rush to get to your destination. 
  • Stay Focused and Calm: Drive defensively and don't respond to aggressive drivers.
  • Be Prepared: Keep a blanket, boots, an extra pair of gloves and a flashlight in the trunk of your car. You may also want to consider keeping a few bottles of water and extra prescription medication on hand for very long trips.
  • No Champagne for the Driver: If there will be drinking at your holiday get-together, choose a designated sober driver who will remain alcohol free the whole night, or arrange alternate means of transportation for returning home.
  • Call Your Loved Ones, but not While Driving: Driving requires your full attention, so please pull off the road if you have to use your mobile phone to talk or text. 
"Whether you are traveling near or far, drivers should always be extra vigilant and remember that safety never takes a holiday," said Jim Borba, PG&E's Kern Electric Distribution Superintendent. "Following these tips will help keep you and others safe this holiday season and throughout the year."
In 2016, 1,771 vehicle-caused incidents have caused power outages across PG&E's service area impacting nearly 693,000 homes and businesses.
These outages can interrupt electric service to important facilities such as hospitals, schools and traffic lights. Cars that crash into utility poles can down power lines, which pose a serious safety risk to everyone. 
If you have an accident and your vehicle comes into contact with a downed power line:
  • Stay inside! The safest place is in your car. The ground around your car may be energized.
  • Honk the horn, roll down your window and yell for help.
  • Warn others to stay away. Anyone who touches the equipment or ground around the vehicle may be injured.
  • Use your mobile phone to call 911.
  • Fire department, police and PG&E workers will tell you when it is safe to get out of the vehicle.
  • If there is a fire and you have to exit a vehicle that has come in contact with downed power lines follow these guidelines:
  • Remove loose items of clothing.
  • Keep your hands at your sides and jump clear of the vehicle, so you are not touching the car when your feet hit the ground.
  • Keep both feet close together and shuffle away from the vehicle without  picking up your feet.