Be wary of drowsy driving at start of Daylight Savings Time

Posted 8 March 2019 at 2:09 pm

Press Release, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office

Photo by Tom Rivers: The four-sided Fancher clock, a memorial to 10 soldiers from the Fancher area who died in World War II, is pictured on Thursday. Clocks should be turned ahead an hour on Saturday night for Daylight Savings Time.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today reminded motorists of the dangers of drowsy driving as daylight saving time begins with clocks being set forward on Sunday, March 10, 2019, at 2 a.m. to 3 a.m.

To raise awareness, the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee and Department of Health will be holding “Stay Awake! Stay Alive!” events at various SUNY campuses, and the National Road Safety Foundation has sponsored a “Stay Awake! Stay Alive!” video public service announcement contest for students at these campuses as well.

“Drowsy or fatigued driving can pose a serious risk to everyone on the road,” Governor Cuomo said. “As New Yorkers change their clocks on Sunday, I encourage all drivers do their part by getting enough sleep before getting in the car as just a few seconds of inattention can lead to tragic results.”

When drowsy or fatigued, reaction time slows, judgment is impaired, and the risk of a crash increases. According to statistics from the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research (ITSMR), “fatigue/drowsy driving” or “driver fell asleep” were factors in 2,337 fatal and personal injury police-reported crashes statewide in 2017. Preliminary figures from ITSMR for those same factors show 2,273 fatal and personal injury police-reported crashes statewide in 2018, a decline of over 2 percent.

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 young people ages 18-29 have the highest likelihood to drive while drowsy at 71 percent, ages 30-64 at 52 percent, and age 65 and older at 19 percent.

“Drowsy or fatigued driving is a risky driving behavior that puts you, your passengers, and all those sharing the road in danger,” said Mark J.F. Schroeder, Acting Commissioner of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles and Acting GTSC Chair. “All motorists should learn to recognize the signs of drowsy driving and take appropriate action, like pulling over to a safe rest area or letting someone else drive.”

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.

It is important to note that opening the windows, turning up the radio, or turning on the air conditioner will not help you stay awake while driving.

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