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Teaching Teen Drivers the Dangers of Driver Fatigue

Some teens will sleep the day away, and some seem never to need a wink. Parental perceptions aside, everyone, including teenagers, needs to sleep a minimum of seven to eight hours a night. The reality is that many teens believe they are invincible. They know drowsy driving accidents happen, but they always happen to "someone else." Many understand the dangers of drinking and driving. Many know the risks of texting and driving. However, few heed the warnings about drowsy driving. Statistics gathered by the National Safety Council support this assertion, and teens account for roughly 50% of drowsy driving fatalities in the US. Of course, no parent wants their child to be the next statistic. To prevent that, parents can teach teens about the dangers of getting behind the wheel while half asleep.

Fast Facts Parents Should Know

Driving after more than 20 hours without sleep slows reaction times down to the same level as a driver with a .08% BAC. The longer a teen driver goes without sleep, the greater the reduction in reasoning and reaction time.

Microsleep is a common problem associated with driver fatigue. This involves short, 4 to 5 second naps. At highway speeds, that's sufficient to travel the distance of a football field.

Each year, approximately 100,000 motor vehicle accidents reported to law enforcement agencies involve a drowsy driver. Of these, 1,550 involve a fatality, and 71,000 include personal injuries. Further, males between the ages of 16-25 are at the greatest risk of a drowsy driving accident.

Teaching Teens to Heed the Warning Signs of Driver Fatigue

Most drowsy driving accidents in Texas occur because drivers don't recognize that they are about to fall asleep behind the wheel. Thus, it's essential to teach teens to recognize and heed the following warning signs that they are too tired to drive.

  • Difficulty focusing
  • Inability to keep eyes open or head up
  • Yawning
  • Wandering thoughts
  • Drifting out of the lane of travel
  • Restlessness, irritability, or aggressive mood
  • Diminished reaction time
  • Difficulty judging distances
  • Difficulty maintaining a consistent speed

Finally, make sure your teens always have a place to sleep, or a ride home when they're too tired to drive.

Driver fatigue is easily prevented. We invite you to contact Welmaker Injury Law at (210) 828-6033 for more about how to teach your teens about drowsy driving and other dangerous driving habits.