Grand Jury Sounds Alarm on Kern County’s Dangerous Road Markings

June 26, 2024 | Article by Chain | Cohn | Clark staff

Grand Jury Sounds Alarm on Kern County’s Dangerous Road Markings

A Kern County Grand Jury report has shed light on a potentially dangerous situation on our local roads.

According to the grand jury’s seven-page report, the County of Kern and the City of Bakersfield are falling short in their road re-striping efforts, potentially compromising motorist safety.

Why is this important? Road striping isn’t just about aesthetics — it’s a crucial safety feature. Proper striping helps drivers navigate lanes, especially at night or in poor weather conditions.

The report specifically mentions the importance of “retroreflectivity” — the ability of road markings to reflect light back to drivers, making them visible in headlights. “The glass beads wear off and the paint fades before the markings can be refreshed,” stated the grand jury report.

“We’re deeply concerned about the recent findings of the Kern County grand jury regarding road safety in our community,” said Matt Clark, managing partner and lawyer at the Law Office of Chain | Cohn | Clark. “Safe roads are a right, not a privilege. We all need to work together to make Kern County’s roads safer for all.”

Here are some other key points from the report:

  • Both the county and city are not re-striping roads within the expected lifespan of the materials used.
  • The current paint and glass beads wear off before they can be refreshed.
  • Local governments lack proper systems for identifying which roads need re-striping.
  • There’s a looming deadline: by September 2026, all local roads must meet new federal standards.

Governments named in the report have a 90-day window to return a formal response. The county is responsible for maintaining 2,186 miles of striped roadways, the city for 567 miles, according to The Bakersfield Californian.

Retroreflectivity is crucial in driving because it enhances visibility of road signs and markings at night and in poor weather; improves safety by providing clear visual cues to drivers when other environmental cues are limited; is particularly important for aging populations with reduced night vision; and helps signs stand out in urban areas with competing light sources. The choice of material depends on factors such as traffic volume, climate, road surface, and budget. While thermoplastic and more advanced materials have higher upfront costs, their longer lifespan and better performance can make them more cost-effective in the long run.

Here are few safety tips for motorists driving on potentially unsafe roadways:

  • Use your headlights appropriately to maximize visibility of road markings, especially during dawn, dusk, and nighttime hours.
  • If you notice roads with severely faded or missing striping, report them to local authorities for potential maintenance.
  • Exercise extra caution when driving at night or in poor weather conditions, especially on roads with faded markings.
  • Maintain a greater following distance to allow more time to react to lane changes or turns, particularly on poorly marked roads.
  • Be particularly vigilant on rural roads, which often have less frequent maintenance and may have more faded markings.
  • When driving on unfamiliar roads, reduce your speed to compensate for potentially unclear lane markings.
  • In areas where striping is worn, pay extra attention to other visual cues like the edge of the road or center dividers to maintain proper lane position.
  • Stay informed about local road conditions and any ongoing maintenance efforts that might affect your regular routes.
  • Get your vision checked regularly. Night vision can deteriorate with age, so ensure your eyesight is up to par for nighttime driving.
  • Clean your headlights regularly to ensure maximum brightness and visibility.
  • If you wear glasses, make sure they have an anti-reflective coating to reduce glare from oncoming headlights.
  • Be prepared for emergencies by keeping a well-stocked emergency kit in your vehicle, including reflective triangles or flares.


If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Clark by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form, text, or chat with us at