As you're driving on the New York Thruway, or even on the Northway, you may see a new, unfamiliar sign flashing in front of you on electronic billboards across the state.

The sign will say "Stay Awake, Stay Alive", and will be a reminder for drivers to avoid driving will tired, drowsy or fatigued.

You may think: why do I care about this? I wake up every morning, and as I'm driving into work, I'm sipping on my coffee, and slowly emerging from my post-sleep haze. Or, as I'm on my route back home after a busy day, I'm in another haze while unpacking the days' events.

While these practices may seem commonplace to most, they shouldn't be, as drowsy driving is quickly becoming a major issue in New York State, and nationwide.

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Inside the Statistics of "Drowsy Driving" in New York State

Let's go through the numbers, and examine just how big of a threat drowsy driving is to drivers in the Empire State.

First, this from The Citizen out of Auburn, New York:

In New York, drowsy driving was listed as a contributing factor on 4,854 police crash reports statewide last year. Of those, 11 crashes resulted in at least one fatality and 1,745 crashes resulted in injuries. - The Citizen (auburnpub.com)

Adding onto the research done by The Citizen, this, from the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee:

In New York in 2017, “fatigue or drowsy driving” or “driver fell asleep” were factors in 2,337 police-reported personal injury and fatal crashes. - TrafficSafetyNY.gov

So, not only is this currently a problem in New York State (as well as the country), but it has been for quite some time, and will likely continue to negatively impact Empire State drivers.


The Problems, and Solutions, for Drowsy Driving

The scariest part about the drowsy driving endemic, is the fact that it is much harder to avoid than driving while intoxicated. People who work long hours, or late hours, are naturally going to be tired when they drive home. In a similar vein, those who work early hours will struggle on the roadways in the early morning hours.

With that being said, there are ways to try to protect yourself against this phenomenon. First and foremost, if you feel as though you cannot focus on the road and your driving, choose to get a ride, or wait for a better time. Those closest to you would rather have you arrive later than not at all.

If possible, try to avoid long road trips immediately following the "spring ahead" and "fall back" periods of daylight savings. Plan road trips for the middle of the day, when the sun is bright, and a lot of cars are on the road. If you feel yourself beginning to get drowsy, play upbeat music, turn on the air conditioning, or pull over to a safe parking lot and get out of the car to stretch your legs.

While this information may be common sense, it's that common sense that could help keep you, and those around you, safe from drowsy driving.

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