OILDALE, CA - It's only May and already 14 people have been killed in pedestrian versus vehicle crashes in Kern County. To try and stop what seems to be a growing trend, the California Highway Patrol is cracking down on pedestrians and drivers breaking the law. They focused an increase enforcement Thursday in Oildale. That's an area they say has been a recent trouble spot.
During a ride-along, it didn't take long before we personally found out how inattentive people can be.
"Oooh," said Officer Christina Mendez in her patrol car as a driver, paying no attention, pulled into her path and almost into her patrol car.
"Pull to the right now! Make a right turn and pull to the right curb," she ordered over her loud speaker to the driver.
It was Officer Mendez's first stop in Oildale. It was part of the CHP's saturation, warning drivers and pedestrians to pay extra attention.
"It is very frequent here in Oildale," said Officer Mendez. "Kids and pedestrians are jumping out in front of cars thinking that they are going to be able to stop in a second and they can't."
That's why more than a dozen officers patrolled Oildale Thursday, looking for law breakers and stopping them. Officer Mendez spotted a couple of people crossing in the middle of Chester Avenue. Their excuse?
"We were just in a hurry," said the pedestrians to Officer Mendez.
The nearest crosswalk was less than half a block away.
"We are experiencing a rash of pedestrians that feel they have the right away just because they are out on the street. And, they are crossing in front of cars," said CHP Officer Robert Rodriguez.
Officer Rodriguez says about 90 percent of car versus pedestrian crashes are caused by pedestrians. Wednesday night, a man was hit crossing the road, not in a crosswalk, south of Roberts Lane. His injuries were described as major.
And, last Friday, a 60-year-old woman was hit and killed at McCray Street and Merle Haggard Drive. The driver was visibly distraught.
"It's traumatizing for the drivers as well as the pedestrians, that if you are driving and you don't see this car, you're not expecting somebody to jump in front of you," said Officer Mendez.
That's why, if officers would see something dangerous, they made a stop. And, it happened again and again.
"It's definitely going to send a message and hope that there is a change in culture," said Officer Rodriguez.
"Hopefully, this helps and the accidents go down with our pedestrians," said Officer Mendez.
During the enforcement, 21 pedestrians, five bicyclists, and a driver using a cell phone were cited.
Thirteen others received a verbal warning. And, the CHP says it will continue to do this as they see problem areas.