Car accidents are the number one cause of fatalities among teenagers in the United States. As new drivers, they have less experience on the road. There are a number of things that contribute to the high rate of motor vehicle accident fatalities among young people, such as when teenagers drink and drive.
However, another thing that can cause teenagers to crash is driving while tired. That is why the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) has declared this week to be Drowsy Driving Prevention Week. Many teenagers aren't even aware that drowsy driving can be dangerous.
Many teenagers have busy schedules that revolve around a full day of school, extracurricular activities including sports, and other activities. Most of the time, teenagers are not getting as much sleep as they need. Then when they get behind the wheel, their reaction time and judgment is impaired in the same way that intoxication can impair a person's judgment.
The number of accidents that are attributed to drowsy driving is higher than expected. According to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 100,000 reported crashes were a result of drowsy driving. In many of those cases, people in those cars were seriously injured or killed.
The NSF warns teenagers to watch for telltale signs of drowsiness: trouble focusing, constant yawning, straying out of your lane, and turning up the radio to keep awake. At that point it is better to pull over to a safe spot and take a nap if necessary. The NSF also suggests having a friend with you who can take over for driving.
Of course the number one way to prevent drowsy driving accidents is to get enough sleep.
For more information on how ways that teenagers can practice safe driving, visit their national website.