Daylight Saving Time ended on Sunday, Nov. 7 and the “fall back” time change can disrupt sleep patterns and affect a driver’s ability to concentrate and safely operate a motor vehicle. The California Highway Patrol (CHP) joins the National Sleep Foundation in recognizing Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, Nov. 7-13, 2021, and reminds drivers to be cognizant of the warning signs of fatigued driving.
“When you think of the causes of impaired or distracted driving, include drowsy driving,” said CHP Commissioner Amanda Ray. “Driver inattention due to fatigue can result in similar effects as drugs or alcohol.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who have been awake for at least 18 hours may behave as someone impaired by alcohol. On average, in California there are more than 6,000 crashes annually that are attributed to drowsy driving.
Some suggested tips to avoid drowsy driving include:
• Getting enough sleep before driving.
• Driving with a passenger and switching drivers before you start to feel drowsy.
• Taking regular rest stops even if you are not tired.
• Avoiding alcohol or medications that can cause drowsiness.
• Stay alert and drive without distraction not only to protect yourself, but to protect your passengers and other motorists.
If you feel fatigued while driving on California’s roadways, motorists are encouraged to take advantage of the more than 80 safety roadside rest areas maintained by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) throughout the state. To find a rest area or to check for the latest travel information on state highways, visit Caltrans’ QuickMap at http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov/.
Meanwhile, another ongoing CHP effort that focuses on distracted driving will run through the end of September, 2022.
Every year, thousands of people are seriously injured or killed statewide in vehicle crashes caused by distracted drivers. To combat this issue, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) received the Adult Distracted Drivers (ADD) XII grant to keep California roads safe through education and enforcement.
“Distracted driving is a serious issue that is 100 percent preventable,” said Commissioner Ray. “We are encouraging drivers to make a conscious choice to not drive distracted. This simple decision can have a tremendous positive impact on the safety of California’s roadways.”
Drivers who choose to drive distracted exponentially increase the odds of being involved in a vehicle crash. According to data from the CHP’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System, in 2019 there were nearly 19,000 crashes where driver inattention played a role. Of the 9,371 drivers involved in a fatal or injury distracted driving crash that year, nearly 10 percent cited cell phone use as the source of inattention.
Though there are numerous distractions for a driver, cell phones are the most prevalent. Handheld cell phone use while driving is not only illegal in California, it is an unsafe activity behind the wheel. In California, drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using a cell phone while driving for any reason, including hands-free devices.
“Driving safely requires complete attention, so it is best to stay focused on the road. Distraction behind the wheel jeopardizes your safety, your passengers’ safety, and the well-being of those around you,” Commissioner Ray added.
Funds from the ADD grant will help support the CHP’s completion of at least 400 traffic safety presentations statewide and a minimum of 80 distracted driving enforcement operations between Oct. 1, 2021, and Sept. 30, 2022.
Funding for this program is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The mission of the CHP is to provide the highest level of Safety, Service, and Security.