Press Release - 3-12-2021

Friday, March 12, 2021

Drivers More Likely to Feel Fatigued When Daylight Saving Time Ends and Begins
New York State Partnership Against Drowsy Driving to Promote “Stay Awake, Stay Alive” Message During Drowsy Driving Prevention Week
Students Create PSAs to Raise Awareness about Risks of Drowsy Driving

The New York State Partnership Against Drowsy Driving (NYPDD) today warned motorists of the dangers of drowsy driving as Daylight Saving Time begins on Sunday, March 14, 2021, at 2 a.m.

A "Stay Awake! Stay Alive!" message is being promoted on variable message signs on the New York State Thruway, other state roads, and on social media before and after the time change. In addition, the NYPDD is conducting targeted outreach to college students who are among the most at risk of driving drowsy. As part of the education effort, college students were invited to create a public service announcement (PSA) highlighting the dangers of drowsy driving. The three winning PSAs will be aired on social media and at Department of Motor Vehicle offices throughout the state and the students who produced those videos won cash prizes.

“Just like distraction and impairment, drowsiness or fatigue can negatively affect a driver’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle,” said NYS Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner and Chair of the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee Mark J.F. Schroeder. “Please don’t put your safety and that of others on the road in jeopardy. Make sure you get plenty of sleep before getting behind the wheel or, if you experience drowsiness while on the road, find a safe place to pull over and get some rest.”

"As daylight hours grow longer, we all must be aware of maintaining the proper sleep schedules and adequate rest that keeps us safely navigating roadways as drivers and pedestrians alike," said New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. "New York's Partnership Against Drowsy Driving" is an important annual reminder of the dangers of driving when sleep-deprived and New Yorkers are urged to watch for the warning signs that signal for them to pull over and take a break."

Thruway Authority Executive Director Matthew J. Driscoll said, “With the time change, it’s important for motorists to be aware of the dangers of drowsy driving and the warning signs, so they can make safe decisions before they get on the road. We urge all motorists to make sure they get enough rest, and if they do not feel alert, to avoid driving until they are rested. Making safety a priority can save lives.”

State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said, “Safety is always the top priority of the Department of Transportation. This weekend’s time change can lead to disruptions in sleep schedules, so it’s important that all motorists be aware of the warning signs of drowsy driving and pull over if they do not feel alert. Safety is everyone’s responsibility.”

New York State Acting Superintendent Kevin P. Bruen said, “Few people recognize the dangers of operating a motor vehicle while fatigued or sleep-deprived. It can be every bit as dangerous as driving while impaired or distracted. We urge motorists to get plenty of rest before driving, and to recognize when they become fatigued while behind the wheel. The simple act of pulling off into a safe area for a period of rest can prevent a tragedy.”

Crash Statistics
In 2020, according to statistics from the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research (ITSMR), “fatigue/drowsy driving” and/or “driver fell asleep” were listed 3,654 times as contributing factors on police crash reports statewide. Of those, 8 crashes resulted in at least one fatality and 1,391 crashes resulted in at least one injury.

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), 24 hours without sleep has similar effects on driving ability as a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.10 percent. GHSA also estimates that drowsy driving is a contributing factor in 328,000 crashes nationwide, annually, and more than half of them involve drivers age 25 and younger.

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.

Educating At-Risk Youth
To raise awareness among young people, the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) and NYS Department of Health held “Stay Awake! Stay Alive!” events at Nassau County Community College and Suffolk County Community College, and a third event is planned at Ulster County Community College. These events include sleep experts from SUNY Stony Brook, and Jennifer Pearce, a victim advocate who lost her sister in a 2008 drowsy driving-related crash.

Students from those colleges, along with six SUNY schools were invited to participate in the “Stay Awake! Stay Alive!” PSA contest, which is sponsored by NYS Students Against Destructive Decisions (NYS SADD) and the GTSC. Students were asked to submit a 25-second PSA to raise awareness about the dangers of driving drowsy. The first-place winner received a $2,000 cash prize, the second-place winner received a $1,500 cash prize and the third-place winner received a $500 cash prize.

Lisa Endee, Clinical Associate Professor at Stony Brook University, said, “Young adults and college students are an at-risk population for drowsy driving, yet a great many do not perceive it as a danger relevant to them. We hope to change that perception, adding DROWSY as the fourth ‘D’ in the dangerous driving behaviors along with drunk, drugged, and distracted.

Public Awareness and Prevention
To raise awareness among the public, the New York State Department of Transportation and Thruway Authority today kicked off a 4-day campaign, during which, variable message signs along major roadways will tell motorists to “STAY AWAKE, STAY ALIVE.” NYPDD member agencies will also promote the safety message through social media and newsletters.

Sleepiness can slow a driver’s reaction time, impair vision and judgment, and delay the processing of information, increasing the odds of a crash. Motorists 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.

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. The safest thing to do when experiencing drowsiness while driving is to pull over and find a safe place to sleep.

For more information about the dangers of drowsy driving and strategies to avoid it, visit the GTSC’s Drowsy Driving Awareness webpage, the SUNY Stony Brook School of Health Technology & Management’s educational and interactive website,, the National Sleep Foundation’s Facts About 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 Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, NYS Department of Health, New York State Thruway Authority, NYS Department of Transportation, New York 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.