BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Everyone gained an extra hour of sleep over the weekend, but it also cut back our daylight hours.
Because of the time change, the California Highway Patrol is declaring this week "drowsy driver prevention week."
Officers are reminding drivers about the dangers of getting behind the wheel when you haven't had enough sleep because it's putting yourself and others at risk.
“If you are drowsy driving, it could be as deadly as someone who chooses to drink and drive," said Officer Robert Rodriguez, the Public Information Officer for CHP Bakersfield.
Rodriguez says drowsy driving crashes are frustrating because they’re some of the most preventable kinds of crashes that CHP responds to. That’s why they’re partnering with other transportation agencies to raise awareness to get rest before you get behind the wheel.
“It doesn’t have to happen where you go off the roadway and crash, we don’t want that to happen. In the last three years we’ve had over 150 deaths attributed to people that are drowsy driving," officer Rodriguez said.
From 2016 to 2018, CHP said there has was an average of nearly 7,000 collisions involving sleepy or fatigued drivers annually in California. Those crashes led to 167 deaths. Officer Rodriguez says there are a few signs that will tell if you’re too sleepy to be on the road.
“If your eyelids become heavy, you start to blink a lot, you know, maybe your mind starts wandering or maybe you can’t remember a couple miles back, what happened. All of a sudden you’re in a different city and you can't remember the city you just came from," he explained.
Rodriguez said if any of those apply to you, it’s best to just pull over, find a safe and well-lit area to park your car and lock your doors.
“And then even just if it’s a short cat nap, get some rest, get your wits about you," he said.
CHP said many drowsy driving crashes happen while there are other passengers in the car. In fact, sleepy passengers sometimes lead to trouble too.
“You start to yawn, then the other person in the car starts to yawn. Once everyone else is asleep and the driver is the only one that's awake, pretty soon the driver starts to give in," officer Rodriguez said, adding that many of those situations involve families.
“I’ve seen it to where an entire family is killed, because the driver, usually the dad, falls asleep," he said.
Rodriguez said in his experience, the areas where drowsy driving crashes are most common in Bakersfield are on freeways. He stresses that if you’re on the freeway and feel drowsy, you must get off the freeway if you want to pull over for a nap.