STOCKTON (CBS13/AP) – Drivers are cutting back on their gas purchases, waiting for prices to come down further. But this cost-saving strategy could backfire, the California Highway Patrol warns.

The CHP said what you do after you hit empty could lead to some serious danger and a very high cost.

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On Monday, the CHP office in Stockton posted on its Facebook page that more people are calling them for help on the road after having run out of gas. And while buying less gas could lower out-of-pocket costs, it’s not worth it, the CHP says.

They used one example of a driver who rang up a big bill after letting the gas gauge go to E. Last week, the driver had to pay $70 for a tow truck, $60 for a call for service (to the tow company), and $10 for two gallons of gas.

“This advice could save you time and money and that advice is……..PLAN AHEAD!” the CHP says.

Daniel Mendez’s fuel gauge was on empty when he pulled into the gas station.

“Right now, I drove in and it had a little light on,” he said.

And he wasn’t the only one. While these drivers made it to gas stations with just drops to spare, more are getting stranded.

“Don’t push it. Don’t say, ‘I know my car when it’s on E, I have more miles, five more miles.’ Just get yourself to the gas station,” said Officer Reuben Jones with the CHP.

Jones said the trend has been getting worse with rising gas prices.

“We’re just seeing an increase in people risking going the extra mile, two miles, five miles, and some of them aren’t making it,” he said.

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Some areas do have freeway service patrol trucks that will help stranded motorists for free, but they only work certain times of day in high-traffic areas.

“They’re going to hook that vehicle up as quickly as they can and take it to the next exit,” Jones said.

So what should drivers do if they run out of gas?

“The best thing is if you call 911 from your cellphone (that’s Highway Patrol’s dispatch), you say this is what I need, they’re going to send an officer to you,” Jones said.

Officers say don’t try to push your car or walk on the side of the road to a gas station.

“That is a bad idea,” Jones said. “It is unsafe.”

Frustration over fuel prices is causing safety concerns on valley roadways.

“Gas prices need to go down so that people don’t go running out of gas on the freeway,” Mendez said.

It may not be a big problem for much longer as gas prices have declined amid falling oil prices after climbing to new all-time record levels in California and around the nation in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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Analysts said the price of crude oil topped $123 per barrel shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but has gradually fallen below $105. Tracy Noble, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic, says the cost of oil accounts for about 50% of what drivers pay at the pump, but the war is roiling ”an already tight global oil market.”