Utica, NY (WIBX) - Daylight Savings begins this Sunday, and officials are reminding motorists of the dangers of drowsy driving. The annual awareness campaign is to prevent unnecessary car crashes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, (NHTSA) estimates that drowsy driving causes more than 100,000 crashes each year, resulting in an estimated 1,550  fatalities and 40,000 injuries.

In New York State, officials say drowsy driving contributed to more than 1,000 crashes in 2009 alone. Those with the highest risk include, commercial truck drivers, late-night shift workers, people with untreated sleep disorders and especially young drivers. According to one study, the number 1 killer of young people ages 16 to 24 is drowsy driving.

Drowsy Driving Warning  Signs

  • Difficulty in keeping one's eyes open
  • Repeated yawning
  • Wandering or disconnected thoughts
  • Drifting from the driving lane
  • Failure to remember the last few miles driven

Drowsy Driving Safety Tips

  • Motorists should get adequate sleep before driving and take breaks about every 100 miles or two hours on long trips.
  • On long trips, drivers should bring a passenger to help them stay awake and share the driving responsibilities.
  • Motorists should never drink alcohol before driving and drivers should always be aware of the potential side effects of any medications they are taking as some cause drowsiness.
Some common misconceptions on useful strategies to combat fatigue include, opening a window, turning on the air conditioner or playing loud music. However, these are not effective ways to drive safely, official with the campaign say. The safest alternative is to pull over to rest. Also, they say caffeine only offers a short-term solution.  This Sunday, March 13, motorists are not only reminded to change their clocks -- they are also encouraged to drive safely.