Navigating the Night: Shedding Light on the Surge of Nighttime Pedestrian Fatalities in Bakersfield and America

March 6, 2024 | Article by Chain | Cohn | Clark staff

Navigating the Night: Shedding Light on the Surge of Nighttime Pedestrian Fatalities in Bakersfield and America

As the sun sets on American roads, a haunting trend emerges — a surge in nighttime pedestrian fatalities that traffic safety experts are urgently working to unravel and address.

More than 7,300 pedestrians died in America in 2021 (the latest statistics available) with three in four during the hours between sunset and sunrise, according to a research study by New York Times. And while most deaths among vehicle occupants happen during the day, pedestrian fatalities peak at night, indicating a heightened risk associated with darkness for those on foot.

This stands in contrast with other comparable wealthy countries, such as Canada and Australia, which have a much lower share of pedestrian fatalities occurring at night. Even more, those fatalities have generally been declining, not rising.

In Bakersfield, too, statistics from the Transportation Injury Mapping System analyzed by Law Office of Chain | Cohn | Clark reveal a troubling picture:

  • 1,316 crashes involving pedestrians have taken place in Bakersfield since 2012 through 2023.
  • The times and days with the most pedestrian accidents were as follows:
    • Monday: 6pm to 8pm
    • Tuesday: 3pm to 6pm
    • Wednesday: 6pm to 8pm
    • Thursday: 6pm to 8pm
    • Friday: 6pm to 8pm
    • Saturday: 6pm to 8pm
    • Sunday: 6pm to 8pm
  • 182 of all pedestrian accidents in Bakersfield, or 14%, resulted in fatalities.
  • Most of the pedestrian accidents in Bakersfield took place in the downtown and east Bakersfield area.

The rise in nighttime pedestrian fatalities in the United States has left traffic safety experts searching for answers. Among the reasons experts believe to be the cause of rising number of pedestrian deaths in the last 15 years:

  • Speed limits on local roads are often higher in the United States
  • Laws and cultural prohibitions against dangerous driving can be weaker in our country.
  • American infrastructure in many ways has been designed to enable speeding cars.
  • American roads have been especially susceptible to potential new risks like smartphones and bigger vehicles.
  • Oversight in road design, noting that engineers have historically focused on daylight conditions, neglecting the unique safety challenges posed by darkness.

“The findings illuminate the need to re-evaluate road safety measures to make sure we’re doing everything we can to reduce the dangers that come with nighttime driving and walking,” said Matt Clark, managing partner at attorney at Chain | Cohn | Clark. “This research signals a crucial need for change.”

Among the efforts that can be utilized to implement change, according to traffic safety efforts, include:

  • Improve Lighting: Support initiatives to enhance lighting in high-risk areas for pedestrians, making it safer for nighttime walking.
  • Advocate for Infrastructure Changes: Push for better infrastructure design that prioritizes pedestrian safety, especially during nighttime hours.
  • Promote Safe Practices: Encourage local policies that create pedestrian-friendly environments and promote safe walking conditions.

Understanding the risks associated with walking or driving at night is crucial to prevent accidents and save lives, Clark said. Here are a few things to consider to stay safe on our roadways at night, courtesy of Chain | Cohn | Clark:

Safety Tips for Pedestrians

  • Wear Reflective Gear: Utilize reflective clothing or accessories to enhance visibility in low-light conditions.
  • Carry a Light Source: Keep a flashlight or use your smartphone light when walking at night to increase visibility.
  • Stick to Well-Lit Areas: Walk on well-lit paths and crosswalks to make yourself more visible to drivers.
  • Avoid Distractions: Stay alert by refraining from using headphones or texting while walking to be aware of your surroundings.
  • Make Eye Contact: Before crossing the street, ensure drivers see you by making eye contact to confirm they have noticed you.

Safety Tips for Drivers

  • Drive Cautiously: Be extra cautious and attentive when driving at night, especially in areas with high pedestrian traffic.
  • Reduce Speed: Slow down in residential areas and near crosswalks to allow time to react to pedestrians.
  • Avoid Distractions: Refrain from distractions like texting or adjusting the radio while driving to maintain focus on the road.
  • Use Headlights Properly: Ensure headlights are clean, aligned correctly, and used appropriately for optimal visibility.
  • Yield to Pedestrians: Always yield to pedestrians at crosswalks and intersections, even if they are not clearly visible.


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