Many teens report driving while feeling drowsy – and they think it’s not as dangerous as driving drunk or distracted.
That’s just one of the findings revealed in the National Sleep Foundation’s (NSF) 2023 Drowsy Driving Survey. in Washington, D.C.which explored the attitudes and behaviors of 1,124 American adolescents regarding drowsy driving.
One in six adolescents reported having driving while drowsy during their first two years behind the wheel, according to the investigation.
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A large majority (95%) of teens agree that drowsy driving is dangerous, but they don’t think it’s as dangerous as drunk driving, driving under the influence of drugs, or distracted driving .
“It is important to note that drowsy driving is unequivocally impaired driving – just like drunk, drugged and distracted driving,” said Joseph Dzierzewski, PhD, vice president of research and NSF Scientific Affairs, in a statement to Fox News Digital.
When it comes to reasons for drowsy driving, a majority of teens cited schoolwork and work as the main reasons for their lack of sleep.
“Drowsy driving is unequivocally impaired driving, just like drunk, drugged and distracted driving.”
Employed teens said they were twice as likely to have driven while tired, to the point where they “had trouble keeping their eyes open.”
Limitations of the study
The survey had a main limitation, Dzierzewski noted, and that was the potential underreporting of drowsy driving.
“However, this would mean that actual rates of drowsy driving are even higher than we found, suggesting that the problem may be more widespread than currently thought,” he added.
“What surprised us is that even though road accidents are the second leading cause of death among adolescents“Most teens view drunk, drugged and distracted driving as more dangerous,” Dzierzewski noted.
“Clearly there is an opportunity for more education.”
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Drowsy driving is entirely preventable, Dzierzewski said, emphasizing the need to teach young drivers the importance of getting enough sleep before operating a vehicle.
In a corresponding survey of 1,349 adults, the NSF found that adults were even more likely to drive when drowsy – with six in ten reporting they had done so.
Tips for driving safely
Preventing drowsy driving is “everyone’s responsibility,” Dzierzewski emphasized.
“Always be on the lookout for warning signs of drowsy driving while behind the wheel,” he advised.
Some of these signs include difficulty concentrating on the road, yawning, frequent blinking, difficulty remembering the last few miles driven, difficulty maintaining lanes, tailgating, or being irritated by road events. current circulation.
If any of these situations occur, it’s important to stop in a safe place, Dzierzewski said, and rest, stretch or have a drink. caffeinated drink.
“Only get back on the road when you are sure you can drive safely,” he said.
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It’s also essential to get enough sleep the night before your trip, Dzierzewski said.
NSF recommends seven to nine hours of sleep per night for adults and eight to 10 hours for adolescents.
“While (drinking) caffeine, rolling down the windows and listening to loud music can help you arrive at your destination safely, it is no substitute for sleep.”
“Plan long trips with a companion who can not only search early warning signs of fatiguebut also help drive when needed,” Dzierzewski suggested.
“A good traveling companion is someone who stays awake to talk to you and who will be aware of your alertness.”
On a long trip, he advises planning regular stops every 100 miles or two hours.
“Remember that while (drinking) caffeine, rolling down the windows and listening to loud music can help you arrive at your destination safely, it is no substitute for sleep.”
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About 20% of all motor vehicle accidents are related to drowsy driving, according to the AAA Foundation for Highway Safety.
Among accidents linked to drowsy driving, 20% involved adolescents and young adults aged 16 to 24.
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Drowsy driving causes thousands of car accidents each year, killing approximately 6,400 people in the United States each year.
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