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CHP inundated with calls, Weather and speed to blame for 19+ crashes

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SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. - CHP Officers were inundated with collision calls Sunday as heavy rain pounded the region and the drizzle continued into Christmas Eve Eve. 

Officials say we haven’t had a wet holiday like this in close to ten years and they’ll be out in full force making sure you slow down your sleigh. 

“The proof is in the number of collisions that we saw yesterday, we can't drive at those speeds and we got to slow down,” said Captain Cindy Pontes, California Highway Patrol. 

Captain Pontes says California Highway Patrol Officers responded to 19 collisions in Southern Santa Barbara County in just one day. Officials say the reporting area covers the Ventura County Line to Gaviota and does not include Buellton or Santa Maria.

“That was in part to drivers not changing their behavior for the wet roadway conditions,” said Captain Pontes. 

To put that into perspective, last Sunday with no rain, there were two crashes.

“When we are at crashes we don't get to be on patrol slowing people down because we’re handling that collision and tending to those people who are involved so, unfortunately, that takes us away from patrolling,” said Capt. Pontes. 

Drivers in Montecito experienced some minor flooding and the downpour impacted some major plans. 

“We were actually on our way to a wedding, it was supposed to be on a rooftop well that didn't work out,” said Cheryl Giefer. 

Some say with the weather the way it is, they don't even want to bother with the freeway this Christmas.

“The last two years we were not in our home, one year because of the fire and then last year I was renting because I was out for the mudslides so this year we're just staying local,” said Noelle Strogoff of Montecito. 

For those hunkering down or passing through, slowing down will definitely get you on the nice list.

“When the rain stops people start speeding up again but the road is still wet so it's still not safe to drive at higher speeds you got to slow down for the roadway conditions,” said Capt. Pontes. 

Officers say in addition to keeping an eye on your speed, avoid using cruise control and if you experience hydroplaning, let your foot off the gas, don’t break and let your car slow down naturally. 

Article Topic Follows: Safety

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Kacey Drescher


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