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With the start of Daylight Saving Time this weekend, parents must be on the lookout for a dangerous driving risk to their teens: fatigue.
Research shows that each year there is a small increase in roadway deaths the Monday after Spring Daylight Savings, and this has generally been attributed to the one hour loss of sleep most Americans experience at this time. Teen drivers are no exception to the risks of fatigue – especially considering that teens need more sleep than adults – so take extra precautions to make sure your teen is ready to "spring forward."
This can include reminding your teen of the upcoming time change so they can plan to get enough sleep, talking to them about the risks of drowsy driving and even giving them a ride the first few days after the change. Drowsy driving can have similar consequences as impaired driving, so don’t take any chances if you feel your teen is too sleep deprived to drive safely.
And don’t forget to get plenty of sleep yourself. Remember, you set the example for your teen. If you go to the effort to make sure your teen is well rested but don’t do the same yourself, you are showing them that drowsy driving is acceptable and could still be putting yourself and your teen at risk.
More than anything, this should serve as a reminder for all parents to make sure their teens are getting enough sleep on a consistent schedule. Your teen’s busy schedule can put a strain on their sleep and easily lead to fatigue.
Fatigue is a bigger danger than you’d think, and teen drivers already face increased risks on the road due to their inexperience. Adding in a loss of sleep and hazards such as passengers and nighttime driving can dramatically increase your teen’s crash risk, so be sure they are getting enough sleep all year long, not just this particular weekend.
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.