Reviewing the statistics associated with teenage crash risks may give parents an artificial sense of safety. If you model good behavior for your teenager and have strict rules in place about things like alcohol, drugs or even texting while driving, you probably assume that your child will avoid the biggest risk factors for getting into a crash.
However, even the most responsible and rule-abiding teenager could be at risk for one of the lesser-known crash causes for young drivers. While distraction caused by devices or teenage passengers is risky, and impairment is always a danger, fatigue or drowsiness is a risk that all too many adult and teenage drivers seem to overlook when planning for safe driving habits.
Many high school students are spread too thin
There is an abundance of extracurricular options for teenagers these days. While you may have had the opportunity to play sports or participate in debate, your children today may have options ranging from model UN and speech to choir and even trivia competitions.
Especially for those hoping to attend college on scholarship or to get into prestigious universities, balancing good grades with extracurricular activities and possibly a part-time job is a common practice. This can mean that your teen has to burn the candle at both ends.
They may get up early to finish homework or study before a test only to go to two different practices and then a short shift at work. Finally, even when you think they might be in bed, they could be playing video games or on social media in their room. All of that might mean that your teenager is getting substantially less than eight hours of sleep a night.
Less sleep means a greater risk for a serious crash
Fatigue is a risk even for adults, and the longer someone goes without sleep, the greater the risk they have for causing a crash or possibly falling asleep at the wheel. Lack of sleep has significant risks for teen drivers. During weekdays, getting less than six hours of sleep a night increases a teen’s crash risk by 21%. On the weekends, that risk increases even more, with those getting under six hours of sleep having 55% more risk than other, better-rested teen drivers.
Talking to your teenage driver about the dangers of fatigued driving and trying to monitor them to ensure that they get enough sleep for their health and safety can help protect you both from the risk young drivers have on the road.