Joe Robach office this week reminded New York motorists to be aware of the dangers of drowsy driving as Daylight Saving Time begins at 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 8. A “Stay Awake, Stay Alive” message will be displayed on message boards along the New York State Thruway, the I-87 Northway and other major roadways statewide during morning and afternoon commutes to remind travelers of the dangers of drowsy driving as part of Sleep Awareness Week.
Fatigue and inattention can be a deadly combination on the road and has caused far too many preventable tragedies New York. “With the ‘Stay Awake, Stay Alive’ campaign, we are urging all New Yorkers to be aware of the warning signs of drowsiness before they get behind the wheel, ensuring that New York’s roads are safer for all”, said Joe Robach in a press release issued by his office this week.
In 2013, there were 3,244 reported crashes statewide in which the driver fell asleep at the wheel and another 1,228 in which fatigue/drowsiness was cited as a contributing factor. This represents a significant decrease from 2012, when there were 3,399 reported crashes statewide in which the driver fell asleep at the wheel and another 1,374 in which fatigue/drowsiness was cited as a contributing factor.
The New York Partnership Against Drowsy Driving (NYPDD) was created in 2004 to educate the public and high-risk groups about the dangers of drowsy driving and promote the adoption of preventive strategies. Members of NYPDD include representatives from the NYS Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, New York State Department of Health, Thruway Authority, New York State Police, Department of Motor Vehicles, New York State Motor Truck Association, New York State Association of Traffic Safety Boards, New York State Movers and Warehousemen’s Association and New York State Department of Transportation.
The Partnership has been instrumental in implementing a variety of drowsy driving countermeasures. These initiatives include: developing the nation’s first comprehensive public awareness campaign on drowsy driving; revising the police crash report to incorporate a new code for falling asleep; integrating drowsy driving topics into the training provided by New York State Police; developing a standardized, medically accurate curriculum on the risk and prevention of drowsy driving for inclusion in driver education programs; and the installation by DOT and the Thruway Authority of shoulder rumble strips on interstate highways.
The common strategies for avoiding drowsy driving, such as opening a window, turning on air conditioning or playing loud music, will not overcome fatigue, and caffeine offers only a short-term increase in driver alertness. The only effective countermeasure for drowsiness is to find a safe place to pull over for a rest or to sleep for the night.
Other drivers at high risk for crashes due to drowsy driving include commercial truck drivers, parents of young children, people with untreated sleep disorders and young drivers. According to the NYS Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC), 16- to 24-year-old male drivers have the highest fatigue-related motor vehicle crash rates.
Motorists should always get adequate sleep before driving and take breaks every two hours or 100 miles. Bringing a passenger on long trips to provide company and share driving responsibilities is also recommended. Motorists should never drink alcohol before driving, and drivers should always be aware of the potential for drowsiness and other side effects of any medications they might be taking.
For more information on driver safety tips and information Joe Robach office suggests residents to visit the DMV’s website at dmv.ny.gov or the GTSC website at safeny.ny.gov/