This Sunday, March 8th, at 2am, New Yorkers are set to move their clocks forward 1 hour marking the beginning of Daylight Savings Time.
While this means we’ll be able to enjoy an extra hour of sunshine in the afternoons, for many of us it also means losing an hour of sleep as our bodies adjust to the time change. And for those of us who get behind the wheel every day, that lost hour of sleep can be dangerous.
According to Acting Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker, driving while drowsy “can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.”
And the data supports this. Falling asleep at the wheel was cited as the cause of 3,244 automobile accidents in New York State in 2013, with drowsiness contributing to another 1,228. This was actually a decrease from 2012, when those figures were 3,399 and 1,374, respectively.
To combat drowsy driving, New York State is launching a “Stay Awake – Stay Alive” campaign on major roadways including the Thruway and I-87. The campaign is launching this weekend, set to coincide with both Daylight Savings and National Sleep Awareness Week.
While announcing the campaign, Governor Cuomo stated, “Fatigue and inattention can be a deadly combination on the road and [have] caused far too many preventable tragedies in 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.”
Other New York officials weighed in as well. New York State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D’Amico said, “Drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as speeding, distracted driving, or driving while impaired. Yet few people recognize the dangers of operating a motor vehicle while fatigued or sleep deprived. Drowsy driving causes needless injuries and deaths each year. The New York State Police urges all motorists to recognize the symptoms of fatigue and make responsible decisions before operating their vehicles.”
Acting Executive Director of the Thruway Authority Bob Megna added, “It is vitally important to for all drivers to be aware of the dangers of drowsy driving, especially at this time of year, and motorists should always be properly rested before they get behind the wheel. The Thruway is one of the nation’s safest superhighways, and we depend on drivers to act responsibly at all times to help keep it that way.”
For more information and safety tips about drowsy driving, visit safeny.ny.gov and if you receive a traffic ticket anywhere in New York State, contact The Rosenblum Law Firm for a free attorney consultation at 888-883-5529.