Highway 99 through the Central Valley named the deadliest highway in America

July 25, 2018 | 10:01 am


In all, the United States has 2.7 million miles of roads — some parts safer than others. Unfortunately, the most dangerous roadway in America happens to be in our own backyard, according to new study.

Highway 99 through the Central Valley was named the deadliest major highway in the country, according to data compiled by ValuePenguin, a private consumer research organization based in New York, using statistics from the National Traffic and Highway Safety Administration database of fatal crashes.

The 400-mile highway — which runs through Bakersfield, the Central Valley, and up through Sacramento — recorded 62 fatal accidents per 100 miles over a recent five-year span, from 2011 to 2015.

What makes Highway 99 so dangerous? The study looked at three factors that contribute often to crashes: weather, lighting, and driving under the influence, and evaluated which highways were the most dangerous by category. The study found that Highway 99 had the largest number of fatalities caused by dark, unlit roads anywhere in the county, and ranked second for the highest number of drunk driving fatalities.

In total, Highway 99 saw 264 fatal crashes in the five-year period. Fifty of those involved driving under the influence.

Interstate 45 in Texas had the second highest rate of fatalities, 55 per 100 miles, followed by Interstate 95, which runs down the eastern seaboard from Maine to Florida.

“Certain things are out of our control when we’re driving, but we can all take several steps to make sure we all get home safe,” said attorney David K. Cohn, managing partner at Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “Don’t distract yourself while driving, don’t speed, practice defensive driving, and never drive while under the influence.”

California highway officials have been working on $1 billion worth of safety and efficiency improvements on Highway 99 over the past 10 years, using some of the $20 billion in infrastructure bonds approved by state voters in 2006 under Proposition 1B, according to news reports.

Highway 99 was the only freeway singled out in Prop. 1B specifically for upgrades. At the time, state officials said the old highway was outmoded, with narrow shoulders, tight ramps and under-sized interchanges. Improvement work has been ongoing since then.

Besides being connected with the title of having the most dangerous roads in America, Bakersfield also has been ranked high for having the deadliest roads for pedestrians, and has been grappling with a rash of bicycle-related accidents and deaths.

Doing its part, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has partnered each year with local agencies to give away free safety helmets and bicycle lights, is a close partner with Mothers Against Drunk Driving Kern County in the fight against driving under the influence locally, and regularly provides safety tips for Kern County drivers.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident on Highway 99 due to the fault of someone else, please contact the accident attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles files false arrest, imprisonment claim against Tulare agencies on behalf of woman

July 22, 2015 | 11:29 am


* Editor’s Note: Neil Gehlawat is no longer an attorney with Chain | Cohn | Stiles *

Lindsay resident Maria Guadalupe Rodelo, 32, had never been in trouble a day in her adult life. In fact, the last time the mother of two remembers any sort of punishment was when she skipped school one time in junior high school.

So it was especially distressing to her when, on May 20, 2015, Tulare Police officers pulled her over for talking on her cell phone while driving. After asking her to step out of her vehicle, Tulare Police officers arrested her without reading her Miranda Rights, placed her in handcuffs and in the backseat of a patrol car, and took her to the Tulare Police Department station. Officers told her she was arrested because she had an outstanding misdemeanor warrant and a felony warrant for her arrest. She was taken to Tulare County Jail (Bob Wiley Detention Facility), where she was repeatedly ridiculed and mocked by jail staff. For three days she was confined to a jail cell until she was released on May 22.

The truth is that Maria Guadalupe Rodelo has never been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony, and she had no outstanding warrants for her arrest at the time of this incident.

On behalf of Rodelo, Bakersfield-based law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles has filed a government claim against the City of Tulare and County of Tulare for false imprisonment, false arrest, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence.

Attorney Neil Gehlawat of Chain | Cohn | Stiles held a press conference Tuesday outside of Tulare Police Department to discuss the filing of the claim. He was joined with victim Maria Rodelo, who spoke with Central Valley media — from Tulare, Visalia and Fresno — about her experience.

“I was treated like a criminal before I even went jail, I felt violated,” Rodelo told media. “It was horrible, humiliating. What happened to me, it’s never gonna go away, it’s not gonna disappear.”

A Tulare Police spokesman said the department is looking into the claim. He also said all officers are trained to follow a procedure when making an arrest, which includes checking names, dates of birth and social security numbers. It’s possible the procedure was not followed with Rodelo.

Attorney Gehlawat told media the goal in filing the claim is to get justice for Ms. Rodelo.

She doesn’t want this to happen to anybody else,” Gehlawat said. “We are holding people accountable.”

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MEDIA COVERAGE