A reminder now about drowsy driving involving younger people. If you have young drivers in your family, warn them of the dangers! Here are some statistics and tips for teen drivers and their parents from the National Transportation Safety Board:
- According to research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, one in five fatal crashes involves a drowsy driver, and drivers aged 16 to 24 are at the greatest risk for being involved in a drowsy driving crash.
- Between 2010 and 2015, more than 1,300 drivers aged 25 and younger were involved in fatal drowsy driving crashes in the United States, representing over 30 percent of all drivers in such crashes. Studies conducted in North Carolina and New York found that drivers aged 25 and younger are over-represented in all (fatal and nonfatal) drowsy driving crashes.
- Survey research has found that young adults aged 19 to 24 are more likely to report falling asleep while driving than any other age group.
Teens need 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night, yet a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that more than two-thirds of high school students get 7 hours of sleep or less on an average school night.
- High school students who reported sleeping 7 or fewer hours per night were more likely to engage in high-risk behaviors such as texting while driving, drinking and driving, and not wearing a seat belt.
On Sunday, March 20, 2016, about 1:57 p.m., a 2013 Hyundai Elantra passenger car occupied by an 18-year-old driver and three passengers, ranging in age from 17 to 19, was traveling northbound in the left lane of US Highway 77 (US-77) in Robstown, Texas. The Hyundai drifted left toward the center median and entered the edge of the median at a location on US-77 that included a left-turn lane. Upon entering the median, the driver attempted to steer the vehicle back into the northbound lanes but ultimately lost control of the vehicle. The Hyundai crossed the center median and entered the southbound traffic lanes, where it collided with a 2009 Freightliner truck-tractor in combination with a flatbed semitrailer. As a result of the crash, the driver of the Hyundai was seriously injured, and the three passengers died.
The group of teens in the Hyundai had been returning to Houston, Texas, from a weekend trip to South Padre Island, Texas. There was no evidence that the driver was impaired by drugs or alcohol.
What can young drivers do?
- Make sleep a priority. While older adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night, teens need more— 8 to 10 hours for optimal health and safety.
- Avoid driving during nighttime and early morning hours, when sleep typically occurs. Almost every state has graduated driver license laws that limit when teens can drive after dark. Such laws have been shown to reduce the rates of serious crashes among young drivers.
What can parents do?
- Help teens create a good environment for sleep. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends keeping electronic devices such as TVs, video games, computers, and cell phones out of teens’ bedrooms. Research shows that doing so leads to longer sleep times.
- Advocate for later school start times. The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that middle and high schools delay the start of classes to 8:30 a.m. or later. Earlier school start times are associated with higher risk of teen crashes.
- Teach new drivers that drowsy driving can be as risky as driving drunk, drugged, or distracted.
- Plan ahead to ensure that teens have a safe ride to and from late night and early morning events.
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