After time change, beware hazards of drowsy driving | TheUnion.com

After time change, beware hazards of drowsy driving

Submitted to The Union

This year, Daylight Saving Time came to an end Sunday. 

Every year, the time change disrupts sleep patterns and may result in sleep-deprived drivers struggling with concentration behind the wheel, according to a California Highway Patrol release. The CHP joins the National Sleep Foundation to promote Drowsy Driving Prevention Week this week and increase awareness of the dangers associated with the deadly driving behavior.

California has experienced an increase in collisions involving sleepy or fatigued drivers over the last three years. In 2014, there were 4,693 collisions involving sleepy or fatigued drivers. The number increased to 5,810 in 2015, and to 6,930 in 2016. Over the same time span, those collisions resulted in the deaths of 44 people in 2014, 43 people in 2015, and 47 in 2016.

"Drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence. Drowsiness impairs judgment, performance, and reaction time just like alcohol and drugs," CHP Acting Commissioner Warren Stanley said in the release. "Getting enough rest everyday will be your best defense in reducing your chances of being involved in a collision."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports studies have shown that going too long without sleep can impair your ability to drive the same way as drinking too much alcohol. Being awake for at least 18 hours is the same as someone having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05 percent. Being awake for at least 24 hours is equal to having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.10 percent. This is higher than the legal limit of 0.08 percent.

If you notice signs of fatigue, such as heavy eyelids or bobbing your head, the CHP recommends pulling off the road, finding a safe place to park and taking a 20-minute nap. Drinking a caffeinated beverage may help you stay alert, but it isn't recommended to rely on it for long periods of time.

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Switching drivers when possible to allow the driver to rest, is also recommended. These simple precautions will help lower your risk of being involved in a traffic collision, an injury, or death.

Source: California Highway Patrol

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