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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Thursday, March 7, 2013

MOTORISTS REMINDED OF DROWSY DRIVING DANGERS
Fatigue a Possibility as Daylight Saving Time Begins on March 10

     

Thomas J. Madison, Executive Director of the New York State Thruway Authority, and Barbara J. Fiala, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles and Chair of the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC), today used the occasion of National Sleep Awareness Week, (March 3-10) and the upcoming start of Daylight Saving Time to remind motorists of the dangers of drowsy driving. Daylight Saving Time begins at 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 10.

“Part of what makes the Thruway one of the safest highways in the nation is our constant work to ensure that drivers are as knowledgeable as possible,” said Madison. “If drivers are able to recognize the signs of fatigue and drowsiness, thousands of injuries and deaths can be prevented. As standard time begins, I encourage all drivers using New York’s roads to take a minute before getting behind the wheel and make sure you can make your trip safely.”

“While falling asleep at the wheel is the most obvious result of drowsy driving, fatigue can also result in accidents from not paying attention while driving,” said Commissioner Fiala. “Every year, New Yorkers are injured and killed in crashes in which drowsiness or fatigue was reported as a factor. These tragedies are preventable. Motorists need to be aware of the warning signs of fatigue and avoid driving while drowsy, particularly as we make the adjustment to standard time.”

New York State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D’Amico said, “A drowsy driver on the road can be every bit as dangerous as a driver who is speeding, distracted or impaired. Drowsy driving causes thousands of injuries and deaths each year. Drivers should recognize the dangers of operating a motor vehicle while tired or fatigued. Making a responsible decision before operating a vehicle is the key to avoiding crashes and keeping our highways safe.”
In 2011, there were 1,290 crashes statewide in which fatigue/drowsiness was cited as a contributing factor, and an additional 3,319 crashes in which it was reported that the driver fell asleep at the wheel. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that each year 100,000 crashes are reported to police nationally, in which drowsy driving or driver fatigue is cited as a contributing factor. NHTSA estimates that those crashes result in 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries and $12.5 billion in monetary losses annually.

Drivers most at risk for crashes due to drowsy driving include commercial truck drivers, late-night shift workers, parents of young children, people with untreated sleep disorders and young drivers. Warning signs of drowsy driving include difficulty in keeping one's eyes open, repeated yawning, wandering or disconnected thoughts, drifting from the driving lane and failure to remember the last few miles driven.
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.

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.

Driver safety tips and information are available by visiting the DMV's Web site at dmv.ny.gov or the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee Web site at safeny.ny.gov. Information about the NYS Thruway, including travel tips and traffic conditions, can be found on the Authority’s Web site at thruway.ny.gov.

Contact: William Sweitzer, Office of Media Relations and Communications: 518-471-5300

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