56% of teens have driven while drowsy, survey shows

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Boston – More than half of teens have driven when they felt overly fatigued, and approximately one in 10 have fallen asleep behind the wheel, according to the results of a recent survey conducted by Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions.

Researchers also found that a disconnect between teens and their parents may inadvertently contribute to drowsy driving. Although 39 percent of the surveyed teens said household and family responsibilities affect their sleep, only 11 percent of parents share that belief. And while 42 percent of the surveyed teens reported that early morning activities contributed to a lack of sleep, only 19 percent of parents believe those activities are the cause of their teens’ fatigue.

The findings underscore the need for teens to understand the dangers of fatigued driving and for parents to acknowledge the role they play in shaping their teen’s behaviors, the researchers said.

Liberty Mutual and SADD offer the following recommendations to parents:

  • Talk to your teens about their busy schedules, and be willing to change their routines to make sure they stay alert behind the wheel.
  • Teach your teens to call for a ride if they feel like they might fall asleep behind the wheel.
  • Tell teens not to answer texts regardless of who sent them until they reach their destination.

“Drowsiness impairs driving performance and reaction time. … The situation can be exacerbated when the driver is a teenager without much experience. If parents, however, address this issue head on, they can foster safe driving practices to help remind their teens the importance of staying alert on the road,” William Horrey, Ph.D., principal research scientist at the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety, said in a press release.

About 2,500 teens participated in the nationwide survey, which was conducted in April.

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