SACRAMENTO – A tired driver is a dangerous and potentially deadly driver. So says the California Highway Patrol (CHP). That’s why the CHP is joining the National Sleep Foundation in a weeklong campaign to educate motorists during “Drowsy Driving Prevention Week,” November 12-18, 2012.
“Fatigued drivers are a safety risk on our roadways,” said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. “If you are tired, reaction time and judgment can become impaired. Tired drivers behave similarly to those who are intoxicated.”
Drowsiness can reduce reaction time, impair judgment and vision, and impact a driver’s attention, said CHP officials.
In 2010, the most recent year available, there were more than 3,600 collisions in California involving drowsy drivers, according to statistics from the CHP’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System. As a result of those collisions, 32 people died and more than 2,000 others were injured. In the Antelope Valley, one passenger was killed and another passenger was critically injured this summer, when the driver of a pickup truck fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into a pole on Business Center Parkway and Avenue K-10 in Lancaster. (Read more here.)
The CHP and the National Sleep Foundation offer the following tips to drivers to reduce their risk of falling asleep behind the wheel:
- Get enough sleep, at least 7-9 hours, to help maintain alertness.
- On long road trips, schedule breaks every couple of hours or every 100 miles.
- When possible, travel with a companion who can take a turn behind the wheel or help keep the driver awake.
- Avoid driving at times when you would normally be asleep.
- Avoid alcohol or medications that cause drowsiness.
- Consume caffeine as it increases alertness.
- When tiredness sets in, exit the highway and find a safe location to park and rest.
“With a few simple precautions drivers can help prevent future tragedies from occurring,” added Commissioner Farrow.
CHP receives speed, aggressive driving enforcement grant
The majority of collisions in California that end in death or injury begin with a speeding or aggressive driver, according to CHP. To address this issue, CHP is embarking on a yearlong, lifesaving endeavor to reduce the frequency of these collisions throughout the state.
The Department has received a federally-funded grant titled, “Reduce Aggressive Driving Incidents and Tactically Enforce Speed (RADIATES).”
The CHP’s anti-speed campaign will continue through September 30, 2013.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration defines aggressive driving as “when individuals commit a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property.” Aggressive drivers often commit multiple moving violations in addition to speeding, such as following too closely, passing without sufficient clearance, improper lane change, driving on the wrong side of the road, improper turning movements and driving in violation of cell phone and texting laws.
In 2010, there were more than 132,000 collisions statewide where speed was the primary cause, resulting in the deaths of 435 people and injury to nearly 72,000 others, according to data from the CHP’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System.
“Speed limits are not merely a suggestion, they exist for the public’s safety,” said Commissioner Farrow. “If motorist will drive within the speed limit, fewer injuries will occur on the road and more importantly, lives will be saved.”
The RADIATES grant will allow CHP to deploy enhanced enforcement and public awareness campaigns statewide. Speeding motorists may receive an additional “wakeup call” with an increase in the use of radar trailer deployments throughout the state.
Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.