The canyon portion of Highway 178 is a beautiful, well-kept section of mountain road!
It is nicely paved and has proper stripping.
The lane widths meet state highway requirements.
There are code compliant, properly signed turnouts.
The recommended safe speed limit is shown before each sharp turn.
Signs forbidding passing over the yellow lines are posted.
Parking areas provide safe areas for sight-seeing.
Designated picnic areas are available.
The Highway Patrol is augmented by Sheriff Officers and Forest Service law enforcement personnel.
Of course, as with all mountain roads, problems can be expected:
In stormy seasons, rocks may fall, but there is a promptly responding Caltrans maintenance/repair team.
Deer and bears may roam at night, but this happens on most mountain roads and also occurs in our residential areas.
Cattle occasionally visit the road through broken fencing, but we mountain folks expect that and it occurs in the valley, too.
The Kern River Canyon section of Highway 178 has incident/accident/injury rates higher than other similar sections of road in the state. The alarming statistics show that more than 80 percent of the accidents in the canyon involve Kern County residents and 65 percent involve residents of the Kern River Valley. Both Kern County and valley residents are aware that the road is winding with blind curves and narrow shoulders in many areas. A recent study revealed that just over 50 percent of vehicles in the canyon exceed the 55 mile per hour speed limit. Some drivers, who wish to speed, endanger themselves and others, cross over the double yellow lines to pass vehicles in front of them. Other fast drivers attempt to get a speed-limit driver to move faster by tail-gating. When tail-gating happens, slow down, put on the right turn signal and look for a turnout
We are not always safe mountain road drivers, are we? Let’s fix that!