Press Release - 11-03-2023
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, November 3, 2022
NEW YORK STATE WARNS OF DROWSY DRIVING RISK
AS DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME ENDS
Drowsy Driving Contributed to More Than 5,000 Crashes in 2022
Daylight Saving Time Changes Increase Chances of Driver Fatigue and Drowsiness
Statewide Partnership Will Promote “Stay Awake! Stay Alive!” Message
During Drowsy Driving Prevention Week
The New York State Partnership Against Drowsy Driving (NYPDD) today reminded drivers to be aware of the dangers of drowsy driving as the end of daylight saving time approaches. Despite the additional hour gained in the time change, it can disrupt sleep patterns, causing people to feel drowsy.
Daylight saving time ends at 2 a.m. on Sunday, November 5. The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) uses the occasion to begin its Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, November 5 to 11.
“Drowsiness can slow reaction time, impair judgment and increase the risk of a crash, especially when combined with driver inexperience,” said Mark J.F. Schroeder, NYS Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Commissioner and Chair of the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC). “All drivers should know the warning signs of drowsiness, particularly as we adjust to standard time, and avoid driving if they are tired or do not feel up to it.”
Thruway Authority Acting Executive Director Frank G. Hoare said, “The end of daylight saving time and changes to sleep schedules can increase the chances of drowsy or fatigued driving. Drowsy driving is impaired driving, as fatigue can impact a driver’s reaction time and impair judgment. Make responsible decisions for your safety and the safety of others.”
“As we approach the end of daylight saving time, it’s so important that New Yorkers take necessary precautions to avoid falling asleep behind the wheel,” State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said. “Getting adequate sleep before driving, avoiding alcohol and medications that cause drowsiness, and taking breaks during long drives can all prevent events that could become tragic.”
NYS Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said, “As we set our clocks back, we urge drivers to recognize the signs of fatigue and how it can affect awareness on the roadway. By taking proactive measures, such as prioritizing adequate sleep and paying close attention to alertness, we can ensure a safer driving experience for everyone. Bottom line: if you are too tired to drive, stay off the roads and if you notice the signs of drowsiness while driving, take immediate action by seeking a safe place to pull over and rest.”
New York State Police Acting Superintendent Dominick L. Chiumento said, “Drowsy driving causes thousands of injuries and deaths each year and can be just as dangerous as driving impaired. As we turn the clocks back this fall, it is important to be aware of the signs of fatigue. Drivers can do their part to prevent needless tragedies and keep our roadways safer by recognizing the symptoms of fatigue and refraining from operating a motor vehicle while drowsy.”
Lisa Endee, Clinical Associate Professor at Stony Brook University, said, "Good quality and sufficient sleep is critical to overall health and safety. The biannual ‘changing of the clocks’ results in a shift in our sleep/wake cycle, which is often associated with increased daytime sleepiness and a higher risk of motor vehicle crashes due to drowsy driving. Crashes that occur due to drowsiness are often serious and fatal. The ‘Stay Awake, Stay Alive’ campaign aims to advocate for healthy sleep and raise awareness about the important danger of drowsy driving, adding DROWSY as the fourth ‘D’ in the dangerous driving behaviors along with being drunk, drugged, and distracted."
In 2022, according to preliminary statistics from the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research (ITSMR) at the University at Albany’s Rockefeller College, “fatigue/drowsy driving” and/or “driver fell asleep” were contributing factors in 5,163 police-reported crashes in New York State. Of the reported crashes, 11 involved at least one fatality and 1,944 involved at least one injury.
So far in 2023, according to preliminary figures from ITSMR, those same factors have been listed 2,711 times on police crash reports from across the state. Of those reported crashes, seven involved at least one fatality and 925 involved at least one injury.
In 2021, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 684 fatalities from drowsy-driving-related crashes in the U.S. NHTSA says drowsy driving is likely underreported as a crash factor due to lack of firm evidence, because the investigation is done after the crash, drivers may be unaware of the role drowsiness played, reluctant to admit they were tired or fell asleep, or the involved driver died.
To raise awareness of the dangers of driving while drowsy or fatigued, the NYPDD is promoting a “Stay Awake! Stay Alive!” message during Drowsy Driving Prevention Week. Member agencies will also promote the safety message through social media and newsletters.
The NYPDD also cautions that common strategies to avoid drowsiness, such as opening a window, turning on air conditioning or playing loud music should not be relied upon to overcome fatigue. It can take a half hour to feel the effects of caffeine and that provides only a short-term increase in driver alertness. The safest thing to do when drivers experience drowsiness is to pull over and find a safe place to sleep.
NYPDD engages college campuses statewide in drowsy driving injury prevention programs, including awareness, education and outreach focused on the importance of sleep. Last year, NYS Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) partnered with the NYPDD to sponsor a “Stay Awake! Stay Alive! Public Service Announcement (PSA) Challenge” for students at 15 SUNY campuses to raise awareness of the dangers of driving while drowsy.
The three winning PSAs were aired on social media, Thruway Service Areas and at DMV offices throughout the state, and the students who produced those videos won cash awards. The winners and honorable mentions can be viewed on YouTube. NYS SADD and NYPDD will sponsor another PSA challenge for students in the spring of 2024 at the same 15 SUNY campuses. Additional details will be announced later.
While anyone can be at risk for drowsy driving, some groups have been identified as most vulnerable, including commercial drivers, particularly tractor-trailer, tour bus and public transit drivers; people who work long hours or late-night shifts; people with sleep disorders; new parents or caregivers of infants and young children; young and newer drivers; and college and high school students.
The warning signs of drowsy driving include repeated yawning, struggling to keep one’s eyes open and focused, forgetting the last few miles driven, tailgating or missing traffic signals and swerving or drifting between lanes of traffic. Drivers should get adequate sleep before driving, take a break about every 100 miles or every two hours, and bring a passenger to help keep them awake and share the driving. Do not drink alcohol before driving, and always be aware of the potential side effects of any medications.
For more information about the dangers of drowsy driving and strategies to avoid it, visit the GTSC’s Drowsy Driving Awareness webpage, the State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook School of Health Technology & Management’s educational and interactive website, StopDrowsyDriving.org, the National Sleep Foundation’s Tips for Staying Alert and Preventing Drowsy Driving, DOH’s website and NHTSA’s research on drowsy driving.
About the NYPDD
Established in 2004, the NYPDD seeks to educate the public and high-risk groups about the dangers of drowsy driving and promote preventive strategies. Members include representatives from the GTSC, DOH, Thruway Authority, DOT, State Police, NYS Association of Chiefs of Police, Trucking Association of New York, AAA Hudson Valley, NYS Association of Traffic Safety Boards, NYS Sheriffs’ Association, NYS SADD and SUNY Stony Brook.