Drowsy driving is highly dangerous for teen drivers

Drowsy driving is highly dangerous for teen drivers

Drowsy driving is one of the many dangers that all drivers, but especially teen drivers face. In fact, thousands of accidents and hundreds of fatalities occur every year due to fatigued driving. Operating a vehicle while fatigued – even for a short distance is dangerous for the driver and everyone else on the road.

According to a new study by Chopra & Nocerino Law Firm, drowsy driving impacts these elements of safe driving:

  • Ability to make good decisions when behind the wheel
  • Reaction time to brake or steer suddenly
  • Attention to the road

Drowsy driving and teen drivers

Drowsy driving

Driving while fatigued is dangerous for all, but especially dangerous for new teen drivers. Teens are not bad drivers at all, just inexperienced ones. This lack of experience means they’re not always equipped to handle risks as well as older drivers. When teens drive fatigued, they’re even more likely to get in an accident because their senses are not as sharp as they are when they’re well rested. Plus, teens are busier and more stressed out than ever with the pressures of school, projects, tests, and social activities. Many teen drivers report that they have driven while drowsy because they didn’t get a good night’s sleep.

Factors that can contribute to driving fatigue

These factors contribute to drowsy driving and the increased risk of a car crash.

  1. Lack of sleep – Prolonged wakefulness or inadequate sleep are significant contributing factors involved in driving fatigue. When a teen driver is drowsy, their reaction time is slower.
  2. Stress – Stress often equates to sleep deprivation, contributing to the overall fatigue issue and the dangers of drowsiness behind the wheel.
  3. Irregular sleep patterns – Inconsistent sleep schedules and frequent waking periods during the night can contribute to overall fatigue.
  4. Driving for long periods – Lengthy stretches of empty roads with little to no stimulus can cause your alertness to decrease, while longer sitting times can cause higher levels of general and physical fatigue.
  5. Time of day – The body’s natural biological clock can contribute to fatigue, as it causes highs and lows of drowsiness throughout the day. For many adults, drowsiness is at its highest between two and four in the morning and one and three in the afternoon.

Warning signs of driver fatigue: Know when to stop

Drowsy driving dangers

Crucial to preventing drowsy driving is learning to recognize the signs. While pinpointing when you’ll fall asleep is tricky, fatigue often provides various warning signs before it pulls you into sleep, including:

  • Muscle twitching
  • Frequent yawning
  • Back tension
  • Shallow breathing
  • Heavy, numb, or tingly sensation in limbs
  • Wandering or disconnected thoughts, including the inability to recall the last miles driven
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Frequent blinking
  • Missing an exit, drifting in the lane, crossing roadway lines, or hitting the rumble strip

When a driver notices these signs, it’s time to pull over. Drowsy driving isn’t safe and raises the risk of an accident, so it’s essential to recognize the signs and take the proper action by pulling over to rest and recuperate.

How to manage the risks of drowsy driving

Here are some ways to manage the risks of driving while fatigued to stay safe on the road.

  1. Good sleep habits – Get at least seven hours of sleep per night regularly. Try to maintain regular bedtimes and waking times.
  2. Avoid alcohol – Drinking before driving is dangerous enough, but when combined with fatigue, it can exacerbate drowsiness and impairment.
  3. Monitor medications – Check for fatigue and drowsiness as a side effect of any medications you take. If your medications list either as a side effect, avoid driving and use public transportation whenever possible.
  4. Avoid peak sleepiness hours – If possible, avoid driving during peak sleepiness hours, including the early morning and the early to late afternoon.
  5. Pull over – If you feel drowsy or think you’ve experienced a microsleep, it’s time to pull over. It’s best to take a break and get a nap, even a short nap, to replenish your energy stores.

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Drowsy driving is highly dangerous for teen drivers

Drowsy driving is one of the many dangers that all drivers, but especially teen drivers face. In fact, thousands of accidents and hundreds of fatalities ...

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