Drowsy driving is a serious problem in the United States. It’s a factor in 6 percent of crashes. Each year, approximately 328,000 crashes are caused by fatigued driving. That includes 109,000 crashes with injuries and 6,400 with fatalities. And teens are at a particularly high risk of being involved in a drowsy driving accident.
Teens are frequently short on sleep. In fact, more than 87 percent of high school students get far less than the recommended eight to 10 hours of sleep they need each night.
Often, teens don’t get enough sleep because their circadian rhythm shifts to a later sleep time, but they still need to make it to school early in the day. Pressure to complete assignments, participate in activities, and even work can exacerbate sleep difficulties for teens.
Teens who don’t get enough sleep can build up a sleep debt, which can make it even more difficult to stay awake and alert throughout the day. It’s even more dangerous at night.
Although falling asleep at the wheel is particularly dangerous, drowsy driving is always risky. When you’re too sleepy to drive safely, your ability to drive is impaired, says the CDC.
Drowsiness makes it more difficult to pay attention to the road, slows reaction times, and affects a driver’s ability to make good decisions. Teens are particularly more likely to take risks while driving when sleep deprived.
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