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Pedestrian crashes are on the rise, what’s being done to prevent them locally?

Some of our local streets are becoming more dangerous when it comes to walking and biking and nationally the number of pedestrian crashes is steadily on the rise.

Vic Yepello, a local cyclist and pedestrian safety advocate, worries his daily commute to his Palm Springs bike repair shop is increasingly putting his life at risk.

"It's a very alarming problem," said Yepello said.

Yepello says in some areas it's too dark to be seen.

"There is a lack of sufficient lighting on a lot of streets"

- Vic Yepello

In 2019, Yepello spoke at a candlelight vigil for Raymundo Jaime, 30, who was killed riding his bike in Palm Springs by a hit and run driver who was never caught. His family says the dangerous stretch of S Palm Canyon Drive needs better lighting.

"It's dark. it's very dark. where there life there should be light and where there's dark there's death," said Jeannette, Raymundo's aunt.

The roadway on S Palm Canyon at night

In Palm Springs, pedestrian deaths are on the rise, up five from last year.

In Desert Hot Springs, two pedestrians were killed in both 2020 and 2019. City officials said it was dark for 8 percent of the city's accidents since 2017, with four percent in areas with no street lights.

In Indio, cars struck and killed three pedestrians last year. This year's on track to tie that, with at least three deadly crashes so far and still a couple of months to go.

Indio Police Department spokesperson Ben Guitron says darkness played a role in some of those crashes.

"Majority of them have been in the evenings, early early early morning as the sun coming up, but some of them during the day. and some of them have been a decision upon the person being at the wrong place at the wrong time and then being struck by a vehicle," Guitron said.

Statewide more than a thousand pedestrians died last year and across the country, on average, 20 Americans are killed every day while walking or biking. The National Road Safety Foundation says that's a 5 percent increase from 2020.

"A big portion of this comes from distraction, both distraction on the part of the driver distraction on the part of pedestrians who are often looking down at their cell phones as they're walking," said David Reich of the National Road Safety Foundation.

In Indio, the city is combing street by street evaluating for safety improvements but like anything, it takes time planning, and money.

"It's a pretty major project. and a lot of that is all the reported traffic collisions, fatalities, pedestrian pathways
but safety advocates say more could be done," Guitron said.

But safety advocates said more could be done.

"We need to start planning for more lighting. We need to start planning for more crosswalks and I know those lit crosswalks are expensive, but we need to begin to budget for more of those," Yepello said. "Because we still have too many pedestrian fatalities, too many cycling fatalities. and we have too many dark streets.

A combination Yepello worries could spell tragedy every time he's sharing the road.

Jake Ingrassia

Joining News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 as a reporter, Jake is excited to be launching his broadcasting career here in the desert. Learn more about Jake here.

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