Sleep-Deprived Teens at an Increased Risk for Automobile Accidents, CDC Study Finds
Mile for mile, teen drivers are four times more at risk for an automobile accident than drivers aged 25 or older. That risk translates into nearly 4,000 fatal accidents and approximately 383,000 non-fatal injuries. However, the most disturbing statistic of all is that, despite awareness programs, automobile accidents remain the number one cause of death among adolescents. Why is their risk so high, and what can be done to help? The answer (or at least one possible answer) may rest in a recent study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Teens and Risky Driving Behaviors
While teens are less experienced to handle a crash than an older, more mature driver, the increased risk for accidents often comes from other sources. For example, teens are much more likely to text or talk on their phones while driving. They are also more at risk for getting in a car with someone who has been drinking—or to drink themselves, despite the warnings. Some may ignore warnings to wear a seat belt, avoid playing with the radio, or have too many friends in the car. They are also more likely to speed and drive aggressively (instead of defensively).
Unfortunately, there is only so much parents can do to discourage such behaviors. Lectures, consequences, and even temporary suspension of driving rights may not stick. Legal consequences may not even work in all circumstances. There is, however, one thing that parents may be able to do to help—and it is not what most would expect.
CDC Finds Sleep-Deprived Teens More Likely to Engage in Risky Behavior
In looking at information on sleeping patterns and risky behavior in teens, the CDC found that engagement in high risk behavior was higher among teens that were sleep-deprived. As examples, those who received seven or fewer hours of sleep per night were twice as likely to drive drunk than those that received at least nine hours of sleep per night. Those who received fewer than four hours of sleep were more than three times likely to drive while intoxicated. Similar risks existed for sleep-deprived teens when it came to wearing seat belts while driving, texting while driving, and getting into a car with someone who had been drinking.
It is unknown why, exactly, the lack of sleep affected the risk propensity of teens; however, previous studies have indicated that teens have trouble with impulse control because their brains have not yet fully developed. Adding sleep deprivation to the mix may further hinder their ability to make sound decisions and thereby increase their risk for engaging in unsafe driving behavior.
Injured in an Automobile Accident? Our Attorneys Can Help
When accidents that result in death or injury happen (regardless of age), it is critical that victims seek skilled and experienced legal counsel with their claims. This is especially true if the victim happens to be a teen driver—insurance companies often tout inexperience as the cause. Dedicated to protecting your rights and the rights of your loved ones, Herrling Clark Law Firm Ltd. can help. To find out how, call us at 920-739-7366 and schedule a free initial consultation with our Appleton auto accident attorneys or Green Bay auto accident attorneys today.