ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The New York State Partnership Against Drowsy Driving (NYPDD) is warning New Yorkers of the risks of driving drowsy. As Daylight Saving Time ends on November 7, the time change can disrupt sleep patterns and cause people to fall asleep at the wheel.

“The risk posed by driving drowsy or fatigued is known, yet each year police report ‘fatigue/drowsy driving’ and/or ‘driver fell asleep’ as contributing factors in thousands of crashes statewide, resulting in deaths and injuries that are preventable,” said NYS Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Commissioner Mark J.F. Schroeder.

According to the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research, so far in 2021 “fatigue/drowsy driving” and/or “driver fell asleep” have been listed 2,992 times on police crash reports from across the state.

The National Sleep Foundation is holding its Drowsy Driving Prevention Week from November 7 to November 13. To raise awareness, the NYPDD is promoting a “Stay Awake, Stay Alive” message during that week. The message will be visible on message signs along the New York State Thruway from November 5 through November 8.

The warning signs of drowsy driving include:

  • yawning
  • struggling to keep your eyes open and focused
  • forgetting the last few miles driven
  • tailgating or missing traffic signals
  • swerving or drifting between lanes

The NYPDD also said common strategies to avoid drowsiness such as opening a window, turning on air conditioning or playing loud music should not be relied on. The safest thing to do when drivers experiencing drowsiness is to pull over and find a safe place to sleep.

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

  • get enough sleep before driving
  • take a break about every 100 miles or every two hours
  • bring a passenger to help keep them awake and share the driving

“We urge all motorists to be aware of the warning signs of drowsy driving and pull over safely if they do not feel alert enough to drive. Staying awake and alert behind the wheel helps ensure the safety of all motorists and helps avoid needless tragedies on New York’s roadways,” said Schroeder.

For more information about the dangers of drowsy driving, you can visit the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee Drowsy Driving Awareness webpage.