Teen drivers, school buses the focus of safety awareness weeks

October 23, 2019 | 11:11 am


Our children’s safety can be one of the most important focuses in our lives, which makes two national observances this week especially vital. This week in the United States we are observing “School Bus Safety Week” and “Teen Driver Safety Week.”

Learn safety tips, statistics, and other important information about these observances below.

“Our children’s safety is a top concern always,” said David Cohn, managing partner at Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “Let’s all remember this week, and moving forward, to be extra careful around school buses, talk to teens about safe driving habits, and follow our laws always.”

 

Teen Driver Safety Week

This week and beyond, parents should speak with their teen children about how to stay as safe as possible behind the wheel. In fact, motor vehicle crashes are the leading causes of death for teens (15 to 18 years old) in the United States, ahead of all other types of injuries, diseases, or violent acts. Teens are also 10 times more likely to be in a fatal car accident than adults.

In particular, there are six dangers that are especially important for teens to understand: alcohol, inconsistent or no seat belt use, distracted and drowsy driving, speeding, and number of passengers. Learn more about them below, courtesy of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

  • Alcohol and Drugs: All teens are too young to legally buy, possess, or consume alcohol.  However, nationally in 2017, 15% of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes had alcohol in their system. But alcohol isn’t the only substance that can keep teens from driving safely.  According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 6.5% of adolescents 12 to 17 years old reported using marijuana. Like other drugs, marijuana affects a driver’s ability to react to their surroundings. Remind teens that driving under the influence of any impairing substance could have deadly consequences.
  • Seat Belts: Wearing a seat belt is one of the simplest ways for teens to stay safe in a vehicle. A total of 539 passengers died in passenger vehicles driven by teen drivers and more than half (60%) of those passengers who died were NOT buckled up at the time of the fatal crash. Even more troubling, in 87% of cases when the teen driver was unbuckled, the passengers were also unbuckled. The chances of surviving a traffic crash are 45% higher when properly restrained in a seat belt.
  • Distracted Driving: Distractions while driving are more than just risky—they can be deadly. In 2017, among teen drivers involved in fatal crashes, 9 percent were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. The use of mobile devices while driving is a big problem, but there are other causes of teen distracted driving which pose dangers as well. They include adjusting the radio, applying makeup, eating or drinking, or distractions from other passengers in the vehicle.
  • Speeding: In 2017, almost one-quarter (27%) of all teen passenger vehicle drivers involved in fatal crashes were speeding at the time of the crash, and males were more likely to be involved in fatal crashes than females.
  • Passengers: Teen drivers transporting passengers can lead to disastrous results.  Research shows the risk of a fatal crash goes up in direct relation to the number of passengers in a car. The likelihood of teen drivers engaging in risky behavior triples when traveling with multiple passengers.
  • Drowsy Driving: Teens are busier than ever: studying, extracurricular activities, part-time jobs, and spending time with friends are among the long list of things they do to fill their time. However, with all of these activities, teens tend to compromise something very important—sleep. This is a dangerous habit that can lead to drowsy driving or falling asleep at the wheel.

 

School Bus Safety Week

Every school day in this country, 25 million children ride in a bus. The good news: School buses are among the safest modes of transportation. In fact, students are 70 times more likely to get to school safely when taking a bus instead of traveling by car, according to NHTSA. Why? They’re designed to be safer than passenger vehicles in preventing crashes and injuries.

But it’s not inside of the bus we should be most concerned about in terms of safety, but what happens outside. The real risks is in walking to the bus stop, and getting on and off the bus.

Here are some tips to keep students safe, as well as those walking and driving around school buses.

Tips for Drivers

  • Watch out for children walking or bicycling to school when backing out of a driveway or leaving a garage.
  • Be on the lookout when driving through neighborhoods. Drive slowly and watch for children walking in the street.
  • Learn the school bus laws in California.
    • Yellow flashing lights indicate that a bus is preparing to stop to pick up or drop off children. Drivers should slow down and prepare to stop.
    • Red flashing lights and an extended stop-arm signal indicate that the bus has stopped and that children are getting on or off. Cars must stop a safe distance away and not start again until the red lights stop flashing, the stop sign has been folded back, and the bus begins to continue on its way.

Tips for Students

  • Be at the bus stop at least 5 minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive.
  • Stand at least 6 feet away from the curb when the bus approaches, and keep the line away from the street.
  • Wait until the bus stops, the door opens, and the driver says it’s okay to step onto the bus.
  • Remain visible to the bus driver at all times.
  • Never walk behind the bus. You should always make sure that you’re in the driver’s line of sight.
  • Use the handrails to avoid falling.
  • If seat belts are available on the bus, buckle up.
  • Don’t speak loudly or make loud noises that could distract the driver.
  • Stay in your seat.
  • Don’t put your head, arms, or hands out the window.
  • Keep the aisle clear of books, bags, and other objects.
  • Wait for the bus to stop completely before getting up from your seat.
  • If you have to cross in front of the bus after you get off, first walk at least 10 feet ahead until you can see the driver.
  • When the driver signals, look left, right, then left again. Walk across the road and keep an eye out for sudden traffic changes.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident, please call the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000, or chat with us online at chainlaw.com.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles files claims on behalf of two students wrongfully arrested by Bakersfield police

February 1, 2017 | 9:35 am


Chain | Cohn | Stiles and the Bakersfield Chapter of NAACP announced the filing of government claims for wrongful arrest, excessive force and racial profiling against the city of Bakersfield and Bakersfield Police Department on behalf of two local college students.

After a night of studying on Dec. 5, Bakersfield College students Timothy Grismore, 21, and Xavier Hines, 19, were walking on the sidewalk on their way to get something to eat at Taco Bell when an unmarked patrol car approached them on Valhalla Drive, behind West High School, and shined lights on them. Two individuals, who later identified themselves as police officers, asked if Grismore and Hines were on probation or parole, and began to search them. The officers then slammed Grismore on the ground and struck him with batons, after he asked why he was being searched. He suffered bruises on his body and needed stitches to close wounds on his face and. Both young men were detained overnight.

The Kern County District Attorney’s Office refused to file charges against them, stating the young men violated no laws, and the officers had no right to stop the two, search them or detain them.

“There was no reason whatsoever for these two young men to be stopped, let alone assaulted and detained overnight,” said Neil K. Gehlawat, Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorney for Grismore and Hines. “But perhaps what is most troubling is that the actions of these officers that night appeared to be racially motivated. The officers did what they did because they believed that Timothy and Xavier were affiliated with a gang – a conclusion we feel they reached only because the two young men were black.”

The announcement of the filing of the claim comes one month after the state Attorney General’s Office announced its civil rights investigation into the “pattern and practice” of excessive force by local law enforcement.

With the help of NAACP Bakersfield, the young men posted a video discussing the wrongful arrest, which has garnered nearly 250,000 views on the organization’s Facebook page.

The night of the claim filing, NAACP Bakersfield Chapter President Patrick Jackson — along with Hines, Grismore and members of the community — rallied and spoke at the Bakersfield City Council meeting.

The case is ongoing.

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UPDATE

The FBI began investigating the case in January. Gehlawat told The Bakersfield Californian he doesn’t think it’s at all common for the FBI to conduct investigations like this. Hines and Grismore were interviewed by agents.

“I imagine they would be looking to see if there was any criminal conduct on the part of any of the parties,” Gehlawat told The Californian. “We’re obviously hopeful they’ll find some wrongdoing on the part of the officers because we think that all the evidence from that night suggests these officers had no reason to ever apprehend Xavier or Timothy, let alone physically assault them.”

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MEDIA COVERAGE — ARREST/VIDEO

MEDIA COVERAGE — CLAIM FILED

UPDATES

Chain | Cohn | Stiles sponsors scholarships, celebrates ‘El Grito’ with Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

September 16, 2015 | 11:14 am


Hundreds joined together Tuesday night at the Liberty Bell in front of Kern County Superior Court to celebrate the annual “El Grito,” a major celebration in Mexico that marks the country’s fight for independence against Spanish rule.

The evening included folkloric dancers, mariachi and banda music groups, and a scholarship recognition ceremony — including a representative from sponsor Chain | Cohn | Stiles — honoring six Kern County students and scholarship recipients.

The celebration also included a live feed from the Mexican city of Dolores where President Enrique Peña Nieto led a reenactment of El Grito. Mexican Independence Day is Sept. 16. The Grito, which occurred in the small Mexican town of Dolores, was the rallying call made by a Roman Catholic priest in front of his church to the battle against Spain.

The was the fifth year of El Grito celebration in Bakersfield, organized by the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Business Education Foundation, which includes foundation board member and Chain | Cohn | Stiles marketing director Jorge Barrientos. The event also kicked off Mexican American Heritage Month, which runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.

SCHOLARSHIPS

The Bakersfield personal injury and workers’ compensation law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles sponsored student scholarships presented during El Grito celebration along with Advanced Center for Eyecare and Law Offices of Xochitl M. Garcia, who handles family law.

The sponsors, in partnership with the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Business Education Foundation, awarded six $250 scholarships to local students in pursuit of higher education, and who are giving back in various ways to our community.

Here are the student scholarship recipients:

  • Alexandria Crisler: Foothill High School graduate and freshman at UC Davis, studying applied chemistry, forensics. On campus, she was the president of the math club, French club and mock trial, and volunteered at Mercy Hospital, Kern Ambulance Explorers, and tutored various underpriveleged students.
  • Paloma Esparza: Ridgeview High School graduate attending Bakersfield College, studying nursing. On campus, she helps mentor incoming nursing students. She also participated in Latina Leaders of Kern County and volunteered for various causes, including dispersing Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in Arvin.
  • Madison Ridley: Bakersfield High School student, who will study chemical engineering at Cal Poly Pomona. On campus, she takes part in STEM courses, Safe School Ambassadors, Link Crew and much more. Her charity, Maddie’s Messages, donates blankets to adults and children who are suffering from cancer and other illnesses.
  • Isaac Solis: Foothill High School graduate and Cal State Bakersfield criminal justice major. On campus he is part of the Spanish Club, mock trial and computer design. Outside of campus, he assists with the Kern County Sheriff’s Office Explorer Post 519, and The Way community outreach program.
  • Joanna Valdez: Foothill High School graduate and Bakersfield College student, studying political science. On campus, she takes part in mock trial. In the community, she is part of migrant programs.
  • Ana Zamudio: A Foothill High School graduate, and Bakersfield College student. She is an artist who has been involved in mock trial at school, and as a student mentor.

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MEDIA COVERAGE

Anxious about the start of the school year? Follow these tips for a stress-free back-to-school

August 12, 2015 | 9:11 am


School starts on Aug. 19 this year for many Bakersfield and Kern County students, and along with it comes the usual back-to-school shopping — and the danger of fraud.

Parents will use credit cards and other means of payment that contain their personal information, which may expose them to fraud. But it’s not just the parents who are at risk. Each year, nearly 500,000 children under the age of 18 fall victim to identity theft, according to credit.com.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles, with the help of KERO Channel 23 and credit.com, has provided safety tips below to help protect you and your children from becoming victims of fraud.

And if the thought of being taken advantage of financially leaves you anxious, in addition to the usual back-to-school jitters for students and parents, be sure to read the tips below on how to prevent and cope with anxiety.

Protect Against Fraud

The start of school and back-to-school shopping go hand-in-hand. In fact, Chain | Cohn | Stiles recently sponsored underprivileged children in the annual “Childspree” back-to-school shopping program.

Follow these tips below to make sure your shopping experience is a joyous one.

  • Do not give out a social security number and/or birth date without knowledge on how it is going to be used or disposed of.
  • Know who is going to see the information once it’s collected. Many organizations perform meticulous background checks on staff and volunteers. Others don’t. If in doubt, write, “information to come.”
  • Some doctor’s offices still ask for patient’s’ Social Security numbers. Unless it’s needed to bill insurance, skip it.
  • Students ages 18 to 24 face the highest risk of identity theft. They often live in dorms or share apartments where others can access their belongings. Before they head back to campus, equip your college students with the right tools and habits.
  • Shred pre-approved credit offers. Dumpster-diving is an epidemic on campuses because thieves know most students throw these offers away unopened.
  • Lock up important papers like student loan and enrollment documents so they won’t be left lying around where anyone could see them.
  • Use strong alphanumeric passwords with combinations of special characters and capitalization and update security software.
  • If your phone is lost, contact your provider immediately.

Back-to-School Anxiety

Starting a new school year can be exciting. It can also make students anxious.

Being a little anxious is normal at the start of a new school year; however, for some students, it can slowly grow over the course of a school year and can discourage students from attending and performing well in school.

Some students may shut down and withdraw socially, or keep asking for assurance. KERO Channel 23 has provided the following steps that parents can take to help their children become less anxious about going to school and starting a new school year.

  • Attend open house or orientation activities that allow children to see their classroom and meet their teachers. That removes some of the unknowns.
  • Establish a routine and stick to it. A predictable routine at home can be calming.
  • Discuss the positive aspects of going back to school, like seeing friends again and extracurricular activities.
  • Talk about your own experiences with anxiety and how you cope. Praise children when they face their fears and acknowledge those positive aspects.

— By Jessica Magee for Chain | Cohn | Stiles

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Safety is of most importance to the Bakersfield personal injury and workers’ compensation attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles. If you or someone you know has been injured due to the fault of another, contact the law firm at 661-323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.

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OTHER MEDIA

Chain | Cohn | Stiles takes underprivileged kids back-to-school shopping in ‘Children’s Shopping Spree’

July 29, 2014 | 10:26 am


The first day of the 2014-15 school year is fast approaching for most Kern County students, which means back-to-school shopping is in full swing.

But for some underprivileged students in Bakersfield and Kern County, there may not be any back-to-school shopping. For some students, new clothes and school supplies to start the school year are a luxury.

Thanks to the Active 20-30 Club of Bakersfield and sponsors like the Bakersfield personal injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles, several hundred students won’t have to worry. The 20-30 Club’s “Children’s Shopping Spree” takes more than 200 local disadvantaged students for a day of shopping at Kohl’s department stores in Bakersfield where they are given a new backpack filled with school supplies, and a $100 gift card for them to spend on new clothes.

This year’s event, formerly known as “Childspree,” will be held on Saturday, Aug. 2 at both Bakersfield Kohl’s locations.

Sponsors are also invited to escort the children through Kohl’s and help them choose their new clothes. The staff and attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles, who are committed to various community service events and activities, are proud to be able to help with Children’s Shopping Spree this year.

Active 20-30 Club is a national nonprofit group — with a branch in Bakersfield — that focuses on giving back to underprivileged children through various fundraisers and community events. While the Active 20-30 Club’s focus is on children, each city’s chapter also has its focus for its respective community. The local club has raised millions for local children’s charities. Other programs hosted by the club include the annual Festival of Beers and the Christmas Experience, where the club provides and delivers Christmas gifts, a Christmas tree and dinner to families who otherwise cannot afford them.

For the Children’s Shopping Spree, members of the Bakersfield community reach out to local groups to choose children who might not otherwise have the opportunity to re-stock their wardrobes and pencil cases before the school year.

“To start the year with new clothes, new shoes and a new backpack is very important to all of our children, but it makes a huge impact on our teens,” Renee Stancil, youth connection-program director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Kern County, told Bakersfield Life Magazine before last year’s event.

Besides Chain | Cohn | Stiles, the Active 20-30 Club of Bakersfield also teams up with local groups such as Bakersfield Rotary, Court Appointed Special Advocates of Kern County, Community Connection for Child Care, California Youth Connection and Boys and Girls Club of Kern County.

For more information and to donate, go to www.active2030.org.

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UPDATE: Several local media outlets covered the “Children’s Shopping Spree.” Check out the coverage below:

KERO-23 (ABC): Kohl’s, Bakersfield club ease financial worries of back-to-school purchases with shopping spree

The Bakersfield Californian: Children in need get help with back-to-school supplies

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UPDATE 2: To see pictures from the event, go HERE.