Car accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the U.S. and a new study may help explain why. Many teenagers do not get the recommended amount of sleep at night and this can impact their ability to drive safely after a new study found that teens who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to be in car accidents.
Doctors recommend that teens get seven to nine hours of sleep every night. The study reported that many teens get less than six hours of sleep and it can have devastating consequences if they get behind the wheel. The study found that teens who on average got less than six hours of sleep were involved in more car accidents compared to teens who got more sleep.
Teens who received less than six hours of sleep at night were prone to being drowsy behind the wheel, increasing the chances of being in a crash. The study found that although teens drove more often during the daytime, a majority of teens killed in car accidents caused by drowsy driving happened between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.
When teens got less sleep on the weekends, the study found that teen drivers had a higher risk of running off the road at night. The researchers concluded that sleep deprivation among teenagers can put them at a higher risk for being in a car accident and that safety programs should understand how sleep affects teen drivers to make sure teens receive better education information about the dangers of drowsy driving.
Researchers and safety organizations have tried to raise awareness to the dangers of drowsy driving among teens, and hope that the findings of this study will encourage other groups and the government to address the risks teens face behind the wheel when they don’t get enough sleep.
Source: Medical Daily, “Drowsy Drivers: Sleep Deprivation Predicts When Youngsters Will Crash,” Nsikan Akpan, May 20, 2013