MODESTO (CBS13) — An uptick in pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities is sounding an alarm in Stanislaus County.
The California Highway Patrol in Modesto says most of the fatal crashes are happening when it's dark out. The end of Daylight-Saving Time means shorter days and heightened concern.
"It's 5:35 (at night) and it's pitch dark right now," said CHP officer Thomas Olsen.
Olsen points out how the time change was further inspiration for their campaign. They have investigated 14 such fatalities so far this year, an uptick from years past.
Olsen says Pelandale Avenue, where a female pedestrian was recently hit and killed is a road with hardly any lights. McHenry Avenue is another dangerous road with high traffic.
"What we're seeing here in Stanislaus County is a dangerous trend where cyclists have no lights on, not even a reflector to the rear, or front or side," said Olsen. "It's very dangerous because you literally don't see these bicyclists until you're right up on them and it's just too late."
Bicyclists were seen Monday night with no lights or reflective gear, even traveling against traffic. As part of their campaign, Olsen stopped some cyclists to speak with them.
"If we can get you a light today, it may save your life. You don't know if that person going down is under the influence of drugs. They maybe they're distracted," he told one female rider.
"I was worried about where I was going, but now i'm worried about my safety, so I appreciate it very much so," said Courtney Capilla.
She didn't get a citation, but instead Olsen installed a front light and a rear red flashing light on her bike.
"I'm grateful they're doing something positive, appreciate it very much," she said.
Close by there were two women jogging in the dark with no reflective gear on. Olsen approached them to educate. He also handed out a reflective slap bracelet.
"Today actually caught us by surprise, first days after the time change," said jogger Jennifer Guerrini.
The CHP on a mission to educate and equip the public with life-saving gear. They're taking donations of bicycle lights and protective gear. They will distribute the items to communities in need, who may not be able to afford them. The hope? Preventing the next fatality.
"It makes me pause; that could be me," said Capilla.
To donate: drop them off weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. at either the CHP office, 4030 Kiernan Ave., or Modesto Gospel Mission, 1400 Yosemite Blvd.
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