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Fatigued drivers are dangerous drivers, and your teen is more fatigued than you think.
From early school start times, sports practices and games to after-school jobs and changes in their sleep cycles, busy teens are hard-wired to stay up late and sleep in even later. Unfortunately, they’re often unable to do so, making them fatigued. According to the CDC, less than a third of high school students get the minimum eight hours of sleep each night, and studies have shown this makes teens one-third more likely to be involved in a car crash.
Here is what you can do to lower your teen driver’s risk of fatigue.
The primary cause of fatigue is a lack of sleep, so helping your teen get enough rest is one of the best things you can do. But just letting them sleep late on the weekends won’t solve the problem. To help your teen avoid the risks of fatigue, work with them to create a healthy sleep routine every night. This way, it will be easier for your teen to fall asleep and get the quality rest they need to be a safe, focused driver.
Fatigue can have a similar effect on a driver as alcohol (losing two hours of sleep is akin to having three beers), so inexperienced teen drivers should never be behind the wheel when they’re clearly fatigued. If your teen plans to drive somewhere when they are overly tired, don’t be afraid to take over driving for them or offer to give them a ride. Just be sure they know it’s not because they’re a bad driver, it’s to help keep them safe.
Part of teaching your teen to be a safe, responsible driver is helping them recognize when they should not be driving. Plenty of experienced adult drivers have a hard time knowing when they’re unfit to drive – we often think our experience makes up for impairment – so the sooner your teen can learn their driving limitations, the better.
Summer is a great time for teens to get more driving experience, but you always want them to stay safe as they learn. Drowsy driving should be no exception.
DriveitHOME™ is an initiative of the National Safety Council, designed by and for parents of newly licensed teen drivers. DriveitHOME™ offers free resources parents can use to help their teen build experience to become safer drivers.