Assemblywoman Sandy Galef and State Senator Vincent Leibell announce the passage of their legislation (A.4473/S.3512) authorizing the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee to develop and implement a public outreach campaign to inform the general public of the dangers of operating a motor vehicle while drowsy.
According to a recent report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, drowsy drivers are four times as likely to have a crash or near-crash. It also found that overall, drowsiness contributed to more than 22 percent of the crashes and near-misses recorded – far higher than existing estimates that tiredness is a factor in 1 out of 10 accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has also reported that driving without enough sleep has caused over 100,000 crashes annually. Alarmingly, report statistics show that the largest percentage of accidents with fatalities or serious personal injury is the group of accidents caused by non-commercial drivers who fall asleep at the wheel.
According to a Nov 20, 2002, news release from the National Sleep Foundation, approximately 100 million people, or 51% of the US adult driving population, are driving while drowsy, and nearly 14 million people have fallen asleep at the wheel in the past year.
“We must take action on this issue since people’s lives are at risk,” said Assemblywoman Galef. “This bill is a first step in reducing the number of people who drive with their senses impaired by fatigue. It is imperative to educate the public about the immediate dangers that drowsy driving presents to both themselves and others with whom they share the road.”
"The intention behind this legislation is to prevent potentially deathly situations by educating the public and making them more aware of the dangers that can occur when people drive while drowsy,” said Senator Leibell.
The drowsy driver education campaign will focus on raising public awareness of the dangers of driving while tired through television and radio public service announcements, and printed materials with each application and renewal of a driver's license, each vehicle registration and renewal, in all Department of Motor Vehicle offices, county offices that provide Department of Motor Vehicle services, Department of Health offices, and all automobile dealerships in New York State.
The Committee will also coordinate educational efforts with other state, local and not-for-profit agencies; and encourage existing traffic safety and driver education programs to address drowsy driving. The legislation also authorizes a study of the safety and availability of rest stops in New York State to passengers, both commercial and non-commercial alike, and examines their effectiveness as tools to prevent drowsy driving.