Bakersfield police focus on motorcycle safety in May

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) Through the month of May, the Bakersfield Police Department will hold a special motorcycle safety operation with hopes of reducing the number of motorcycle-involved crashes.

Extra officers will be patrolling areas with high concentrations of motorcyclists and where motorcycle crashes tend to occur.

Violations made by both motorcyclists and car drivers will be under scrutiny. Officers will be looking for those who are driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, illegal turns, speeding, and all other violations.

"We'll be focusing on the motorcyclists, but also on other divers who are making unsafe lane changes in front of motorcyclists, who are not paying attention to the motorcyclists," said police Sgt. Joe Grubbs.

BPD already looks for these violations, but with a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it will afford to have more officers on duty through the month of May.

Some motorcyclists in Bakersfield think the extra officers looking at violations made by drivers and riders will be a good thing.

Rosemary Hobbs is the Founder of SafeRiders, a motorcycle group dedicated to keeping all motorcyclists, experienced and new, safe on the roads.

She said SafeRiders tries to make sure new motorcyclists do not form bad habits once they start riding.

"We try to just kind of ride with them," said Hobbs. "You know, give them pointers and be a safe supportive group of people to mentor these new folks."

Hobbs said that distracted driving has gotten out of hand and would like to see more officers catching those who break the law.

She said she thinks drivers in Bakersfield have gotten better about sharing the roads with motorcyclist but leaves everyone with a message: "Just pay attention, I mean it takes such a short amount of time to look away from the road or to not scan your mirrors, you know, and not see a motorcyclist."

Hobbs said, "That's the difference between life and death for one of us."

Grubbs said that drivers should be aware that motorcycle lane splitting is actually legal, as long as it is done in a safe way.

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