Press Release - 03-02-2020

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Monday, March 2, 2020

Lisa Koumjian
[email protected]

Darren Boysen
[email protected]



Preliminary Data Shows Crashes Where Drowsy Driving was a Contributing Factor Declined Over 8 Percent from 2018 to 2019

 The Governor's Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) and Department of Health (DOH) remind motorists of the dangers of drowsy driving as daylight saving time begins on Sunday, March 8, 2020, at 2 a.m. To raise awareness, "Stay Awake! Stay Alive!" events will be held at various SUNY campuses, and the National Road Safety Foundation is sponsoring a "Stay Awake! Stay Alive!"  public service announcement contest for students at these universities. Research shows young drivers are among the most vulnerable to drowsy driving.

“Drowsy driving is an avoidable risk that puts all motorists and passengers in danger,” said GTSC Chair and DMV Commissioner Mark J.F. Schroeder. “Help ensure safety on our roadways by getting enough sleep before you drive. It is also vital to recognize the signs of drowsy driving and take proper action, like pulling over to a safe rest area or switching drivers.”

“With the change to Daylight Savings Time disrupting our normal sleeping patterns, it is particularly important to take care to avoid drowsy driving,” said New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. “Be sure to get enough sleep and avoid driving if you feel tired, because vehicular crashes caused by drowsy driving are common and frequently result in serious injury and death.”

New York’s efforts to raise awareness about the dangers of drowsy driving are working.

According to statistics from the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research (ITSMR), fatal and personal injury crashes listing drowsy driving as a contributing factor declined more than 8 percent from 2018 to 2019. Preliminary data for 2019 lists “fatigue/drowsy driving” or “driver fell asleep” as a contributing factor in 2,096 police-reported crashes, compared to 2,302 crashes with those same factors in 2018.

According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), some people are more vulnerable to drowsy driving than others, such as young people, shift workers, commercial drivers, people with undiagnosed or untreated disorders, and business travelers. NSF data says the likelihood young people ages 18-29 will drive drowsy is 71 percent.  By comparison, the likelihood people ages 30-64 will drive drowsy is 52 percent, and those age 65 and older are only 19 percent likely to drive drowsy.

To help raise awareness among young people, who are most likely to drive drowsy, the GTSC and DOH will be holding “Stay Awake! Stay Alive!” events at the SUNY campuses of Oneonta, Binghamton, and Cortland. These events include representatives from the National Road Safety Foundation, sleep experts from SUNY Stony Brook, and Jennifer Pearce, a victim advocate who lost her sister in a 2008 drowsy driving related crash.

Additionally, the National Road Safety Foundation sponsored the “Stay Awake! Stay Alive!” public service announcement (PSA) contest for students at the three SUNY campuses. The contest focused on raising awareness of the unique dangers of driving while drowsy and encouraging people to make safe choices on the road. The first-place winner will receive a $2,500 cash prize and their video will be professionally re-produced for broadcast quality on “Teen Kids News.”  “Teen Kids News” is a nationally syndicated program reaching150 television stations and is available online. The second-place winner will receive a $1,500 cash prize and third-place winner will receive a $1,000 cash prize.

Thruway Authority Executive Director Matthew J. Driscoll, said: “Stay Awake, Stay Alive is an important message as we transition to Daylight Saving Time. The time change can impact our sleep schedule and put motorists at risk for driving drowsy or fatigued. I urge all motorists to be aware of the symptoms of drowsy driving and realize the dangers of getting behind the wheel while sleep deprived. By recognizing the dangers, you can save lives.”  

The New York State Department of Transportation and Thruway Authority will also help raise awareness about the dangers of drowsy driving. During a 4-day campaign that begins Friday, March 6. Variable message signs along major roadways will tell motorists to “STAY AWAKE, STAY ALIVE.”

Motorists who feel drowsy should pull over into a well-lit area and take a 20-minute nap or let someone else drive. Here are common signs of drowsiness:

  • Yawning repeatedly
  • Struggling to keep your eyes open or focused
  • Forgetting the last few miles driven
  • Tailgating or missing traffic signals
  • Swerving or drifting between lanes of traffic

Tips to prevent drowsy driving:

  • Make regular stops or switch drivers every 100 miles or 2 hours.
  • Drivers are most likely to feel drowsy between 1-4 p.m. and 2-6 a.m. If possible, avoid driving during these times.
  • Don’t count on caffeine. It can provide a short fix or ‘pick me up.’ But be aware, it takes 30 minutes before you feel the effect and it can wear off quickly.
  • Avoid prescription and over-the-counter medicines that could make you drowsy.
  • Never drink alcohol. It slows down your reflexes and causes drowsiness.

For more information about GTSC, visit, or follow the GTSC conversation at Facebook and Twitter.

To learn more about the NYS DMV, visit, or follow the DMV conversation online at FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

About the New York State Partnership Against Drowsy Driving (NYPDD)

Members of the NYPDD include representatives from the AAA Hudson Valley, NYS Association of Chiefs of Police, NYS Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), NYS Department of Transportation (NYSDOT), NYS Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC), NYS Thruway Authority, NYS Motor Truck Association, NYS Police, NYS Sheriffs’ Association and Stony Brook University. Partners meet regularly to share traffic data on drowsy driving and work cooperatively to conduct projects to raise public awareness of the risks of drowsy driving. The partnership encourages the adoption of prevention strategies among the general public and high-risk populations.