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Drowsy Driving: A Warning for Teens

Author: CHKD Medical Group
Published Date: Monday, October 24, 2016

By Dr. Kathryn Brooks, Nansemond Pediatrics

Becoming a driver is a huge milestone in the life of a teen. It means not having to rely on parents or buses to get around. We often caution against drinking and driving but what about drowsy driving? Drowsiness can have a major impact on a young driver’s safety behind the wheel.

A study done by the National Sleep Foundation found that 15 percent of teen drivers drove drowsy at least once a week and more than half of fall-asleep crashes involve people 25 and younger. Extra curricular activities and early school start times all contribute to teens not getting enough sleep.

How much sleep should your teen be getting?

  • The AAP strongly supports the efforts of school districts to optimize sleep in students and urges high school and middle school to aim for times that give the student the opportunity to achieve 8 – 9.5 hours of sleep which would improve academic, mental and physical performance and lower safety risks such as drowsy driving.
  • Just one in five teens gets an optimal 9 hours of sleep on school nights.
  • Nearly one-half, 45 percent sleep less than 8 hours.

Signs you may be at risk for falling asleep behind the wheel:

  • Trouble focusing, keeping your eyes open or your head up
  • Rubbing your eyes repeatedly
  • Daydreaming or wandering thoughts
  • Slower reaction time
  • Drifting from your lane, tailgating and missing your signs or exits
  • The need to turn up the radio or roll down your window

Advice for teens and parents:

  • Get a good night’s sleep
  • Get off the road if you notice signs of fatigue
  • Don’t drive if you are tired or taking medication that may cause drowsiness
  • Always wear your seatbelt

About CHKD Medical Group

Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.