Lesson 11: The Risks of Drowsy Driving
Sleep is crucial for everyone, and when we go without sleep or don’t get as much as we need, we can put ourselves and every other road user at risk. While the average adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep, teens require 8-10 hours of sleep each day to be fully rested. Make sure your teen gets enough sleep to stay safe behind the wheel.
Studies have shown that being awake for 18 hours straight is the equivalent of having a 0.05 blood alcohol content (BAC). In fact, losing only two hours of sleep can be similar to having three beers. You wouldn’t let your teen get behind the wheel with any amount of alcohol in his or her system, so you shouldn’t have a different view on drowsy driving. It doesn’t matter if you’ve driven on little sleep before: teens cannot afford any additional risks behind the wheel.
You might think your teen has plenty of time to rest, but many teens are busier than we realize. School, sports, part-time jobs and after-school activities can get in the way of sleep, as can digital distractions that keep teens up late. If your teen has regular commitments after school, plan ahead to minimize his or her time driving at night. Not only will this limit the time your teen has to spend behind the wheel during the riskiest hours, it will also give you more opportunities to drive with your teen.
Talk: Work with your teen to create and stick to a nightly routine that gets you both the sleep you need. If something comes up that requires your teen to wake up especially early one day, talk about how this could increase his or her driving risks, and make a plan to stay safe.