Nearly half of teen drivers said they’ve driven while drowsy, according to a recent
Researchers surveyed 431 teens ages 15-18 years in the Washington, D.C., suburbs.
Participants were asked about sleep and driving habits and whether they are more of
a morning person or a night owl.
About 47.6% said they drove while drowsy in the past year. This risky behavior was
14% higher among students who slept less than seven hours on school nights and 15%
higher in teens with an evening chronotype, adjusted estimates showed. Driving while
drowsy also was more prevalent among older teens and those with an anxiety and/or
Drowsiness can lead to delayed reaction times, difficulty concentrating and poor decision-making,
according to the study. Teens with an evening chronotype and early school start times
may feel drowsy while driving to school. Most of the teens in the study started classes
at 7:20 a.m.
“Although efforts to restrict night-driving in teens have resulted in reductions in
car crashes, consideration should also be given to reducing the risk of early morning
driving by delaying high school start times, which may favorably impact other aspects
of adolescent health and safety,” authors wrote.
They noted their study was limited by self-reporting, an unrepresentative sample and
not measuring waking in the middle of the night or using biomarkers to measure chronotype.
However, their findings aligned with other studies.
The Academy has advocated for starting school no earlier than 8:30 a.m. (http://bit.ly/2QuQLuc). It also released recommendations on keeping teen drivers safe, which include later
start times (http://bit.ly/2ScKWyo).