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CHP concerned over rise in crashes with pedestrians, bicyclists
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Traffic collisions involving pedestrians and bicyclists have risen this summer in Stanislaus County and the Modesto area office of the California Highway Patrol is ramping up public education about being less careless.

From June 1 to August 20, the local CHP office has investigated 15 traffic collisions involving pedestrians and bicyclists of which two bicyclists and four pedestrians were killed. Nobody was killed in such accidents for the same period in 2012.

After decades of fewer pedestrians being killed in traffic crashes, deaths have risen nationwide the last two years according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The CHP reminds Stanislaus County residents to use caution when walking or riding bicycles and to watch out for them when driving an automobile. When riding a bike, always ride with traffic, not against it.

The rise in the number of pedestrian deaths nationwide may be tied to "distracted walking" which includes texting, listening to music, or while on drugs. Pedestrians and bicyclists are advised to always make sure eyes are looking for potential dangers and when using headphones, leave at least one ear open to listen for vehicles on the roadway.

Several of the bicycle and pedestrian involved collisions which occurred in Stanislaus County occurred at night. The Department of Transportation's data shows that more than 70 percent of pedestrian deaths happen at night, with a third of the deaths occurring between 8 p.m. and midnight. The CHP notes anyone should use extreme caution when walking or riding a bike during darkness and increase visibility at night by carrying a flashlight and wearing reflective clothing.

The Department of Transportation's data also shows that three out of four pedestrian deaths occur in urban areas, and more than two-thirds happen away from intersections. Use particular care when crossing streets or when walking close to the roadway. When crossing the street, even at an intersection, never assume motor vehicles will stop for you. Make sure all vehicles come to a stop before stepping into the roadway.

Alcohol was involved in about half of the traffic crashes resulting in pedestrian deaths nationwide. In one third of these instances, the pedestrian was determined to have a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit to drive. As a pedestrian, being under the influence of alcohol or drugs makes it very difficult to perceive and react to dangers pedestrians face. Not only is it illegal to drive a motor vehicle under the influence, it is also illegal to ride a bicycle under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

All of Highway 99 and Interstate 5 in Stanislaus County are considered freeways and pedestrians and bicyclists are not allowed. If you see someone walking or biking on or near a freeway, call 1-800-tellchp, or call 9-1-1.