To commemorate Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, running through this Sunday, we want to encourage parents to think about how drowsy driving affects their teens and commit to helping them stay safe.
In 2015, an estimated 5,000 people died in drowsy driving-related crashes and more than 40 percent of adult drivers admit they have fallen asleep behind the wheel at some point in their lives. At least half of drowsy driving crashes involve young drivers (under 25 years old), so your teen is just as affected by a lack of sleep as other, more experienced drivers.
Here are some tips to help your teen avoid the risks of drowsy driving:
Start with your own behavior. We’ve said it before but it is worth repeating: you set the example for how your teen should drive, including driving impaired or while fatigued. That means getting at least seven hours of sleep each night, and helping your teen get even more. When you commit to this goal together, you may have more success than just telling your teen to go to bed and staying up late yourself.
Explain the risks. Hopefully, your teen knows about the risks of impaired and distracted driving, but he or she may not think of fatigue as a similar risk. Change this. Drowsy driving is impaired driving, and just as your teen knows never to drive drunk, he or she needs to know never to drive on too little sleep. To help, make sure your teen knows to call you if he or she is ever too fatigued and needs a ride.
Plan ahead. Your teen is busier than you think, and school, sports teams, part-time jobs and after-school activities often get precedence over sleep. Once you’ve talked with your teen about the risks of drowsy driving, work with each other to make a plan that ensures your teen doesn’t engage in drowsy driving, whether it is arranging alternate transportation for an early-morning trip or keeping each other accountable for getting enough sleep.
This is Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, after all, so focus on what you can do to prevent your teen from getting behind the wheel while fatigued. Sleep debt can easily build up and cause serious consequences. Take action now to help your teen stay safe.