Drowsy Drivers Plague California

Drowsy Drivers Plague California

Max Rodriguez

Maria Felix is ready to hand-off the car keys to her 18-year-old son, Jeremy Felix, he just got his license.

Felix said she usually shares driving safety tips with her son,  he said, “She’s like crazy about blind spots, she always tells me to slow down and look over your shoulder, look over your shoulder for anything.”

But even with her 30 years of experience behind the wheel, she was not prepared for a recent experience. She said, “I switched lanes, I probably closed my eyes for a second and my car swerved to the opposite lane.”

Felix said she was driving at nighttime and she was tired. But she is not alone, California ranked third in the country in the numbers of fatal crashes of drowsy drivers in a study published by Sleepjunkie.org.

Felix said, “I could have killed myself, for being tired and for not taking a moment to rest.”

The California Highway Patrol warns that drowsy drivers are just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

California Highway Patrol Officer Mike Radford said, “It impairs your judgment, slows down your reaction time.”

He accounts one of the deadliest wrecks in the desert to tired drivers.

“The tour bus collision in Palm Springs, where 13 people died, we do believe that both of those drivers were drowsy,” Radford said.  

The C-H-P recommends for drowsy drivers to pull-over and rest at a safe location, or switch-off driving with a passenger.

“There are many times when we stop someone we believe may be under the influence of alcohol or another issue,” Radford said. “But they are just falling asleep or too tired to drive, it is a very, very dangerous situation.”

And as a new driver, Jeremy has a back-up plan if tiredness hits while on the road.

Jeremy said, “Take a breather or go get some coffee or something, a little five hour energy, help you get home at least.”