NewsCovering Kern County


Study finds Bakersfield as the second most dangerous area for pedestrians

Posted: 3:42 PM, Nov 30, 2021
Updated: 2021-11-30 20:33:08-05
Pedestrian Accident (FILE)

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — A continuing national study from Smart Growth America found for the last nine years Bakersfield ranked as the second most dangerous area for pedestrians.

CHP said they’ve seen more deadly crashes involving pedestrians this year than in previous years. BPD however said they’ve actually seen a decrease but said in reality, one is still too many because human life was lost.

“Ultimately in a vehicle versus pedestrian, the vehicle is going to win, that’s the reality of the situation,” said Sgt. Robert Pair, PIO with the Bakersfield Police Department.

It’s time to get serious about crossing the street.

California Highway Patrol Officer, Robert Rodriguez said there has been an increase this year in deadly vehicle versus pedestrian crashes.

“It’s actually been higher than previous years, I know last year we had 15 fatal crashes involving pedestrians, and this year we’re up to like 24,” said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez added they are starting to see more types of crashes in areas where drivers don't anticipate seeing people crossing the road.

“We’ve definitely seen an increase of vehicle versus pedestrians on the freeways as well and on major roadways as well where motorists don’t expect to see a pedestrian crossing the roadway,” said Rodriguez.

The reason CHP said they’re starting to see pedestrian collisions on freeways is that people are sometimes in the area collecting items like recyclables or trash.

“We never want pedestrians, matter of fact it's illegal for pedestrians to be walking on the freeway, so we don’t want you to walk on the freeway, whether it’s to pick up cans, or they’re trying to pick up recyclables,” said Rodriguez.

The Smart Growth nationwide studies from 2010 to 2019 found during that time Bakersfield averaged nearly 300 deaths.

Where are the most dangerous places?

Dangerous by Design ranks states and metropolitan areas around the country using our “Pedestrian Danger Index”, or PDI, which measures how deadly it is for people to walk based on the number of people struck and killed by drivers while walking, controlling for the number of people and the share of people who walk to work as a proxy for overall walking in an area. This report includes deaths that occurred between 2010 and 2019 from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), a national database of all fatal traffic crashes. See the state/metro rankings tabs for the full dataset of all metros and states.

- Smart Growth America: Dangerous By Design

Smart Growth America: Dangerous by Design

While neither department was part of the study Rodriguez said when they do pedestrian enforcement people complain about the crosswalks in Kern County.

“Whenever we do pedestrian enforcement, that’s one of the things that pedestrians complain about. Well, I have to walk several blocks down the road in order to cross safely or legally,” said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez cited another concern in Kern County is that some streets are just dark.

“We do have several roadways in Kern County where the lighting situation is not the best,” said Rodriguez.

Pair agreed with Rodriguez about roadway safety.

“Bakersfield has always struggled with roadway safety and vehicle collisions,” said Pair.

But whether you’re a driver or a pedestrian it’s important to take safety precautions.

“As always, eliminate your distractions if you’re a motorist and as a pedestrian, you always want to be vigilant for cars,” said Rodriguez.

As pedestrian safety becomes more of a concern across Kern County, 23ABC took an in-depth look at the numbers relating to incidents involving people on foot and vehicles.

  • 2020 had the largest ever annual increase in the rate at which drivers struck and killed people on foot. There were more than 6,700 pedestrian deaths in 2020. A 4.8-percent increase in deaths from the year before.
  • People of color are killed at a larger proportion during these incidents as opposed to whites.
  • Older adults - those 50 and up - are disproportionately killed.
  • People walking in lower-income areas are struck and killed at much higher rates than those in wealthier neighborhoods.
  • And alcohol impairment by the driver and/or pedestrian accounts for nearly half of crashes that result in a pedestrian fatality.