Drowsy driving is a dangerous risk to teen drivers. The Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends teens log a little more than nine hours of sleep nightly to achieve the optimal level of daytime alertness needed to eliminate the risk of drowsy driving. Unfortunately nearly two-thirds of high school students get less than seven hours.
Do not underestimate the importance of sleep for your teen, especially in regard to driving. Being awake for 18 hours is similar to having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.08, which is legally intoxicated. Up to 15 percent of fatal crashes involve a drowsy driver, and 4 percent of drivers report having fallen asleep while driving at least one time in the previous month.
Drowsy driving is a factor that increases the risk of a crash. Here's what you can do to help your teen avoid driving impaired:
- Talk to your teen about the importance of sleep and help set rules and priorities to promote health, such as a consistent bedtime.
- If your teen is up late studying, offer a ride to school. Do not let your teen get behind the wheel. It's too dangerous.
- Remind your teen that getting enough sleep offers benefits beyond safe driving: better grades, improved athletic performance, and an overall health boost.
For more advice on helping your teen avoid impaired driving -- as a driver, as a passenger, and as a friend -- download the National Teen Driver Safety Week 2015 Parent Guide.