(TheIndependentStar.com) – In a recent bombshell study, it was revealed that one out of every six teenagers admitted to operating a vehicle while feeling sleepy within the initial two years of driving. The misconception that driving while fatigued is less hazardous than driving under the influence or while distracted is a prevailing belief among American teenagers.
This insight is seen in the 2023 Drowsy Driving Survey conducted by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) in Washington, D.C., which investigated the perspectives and practices of 1,124 teen drivers regarding drowsy driving.
A staggering 95% of these young drivers recognize the dangers of drowsy driving; however, they downplay its risks when compared to driving while intoxicated, on drugs, or distracted.
“Drowsy driving is impaired driving, unequivocally — just like drunk, drugged and distracted driving,” asserted Joseph Dzierzewski, PhD, the NSF’s Vice President of Research and Scientific Affairs, in a communication with Fox News Digital.
The primary culprits for their lack of sleep were identified as academic and work commitments. The likelihood of drowsy driving doubled among employed teens, with some reporting extreme fatigue to the point of struggling to keep their eyes open.
Dzierzewski pointed out the survey’s significant caveat: the probable underreporting of drowsy driving incidents. He added that “this would mean that the actual rates of drowsy driving are even higher than what we found,” suggesting a more pervasive issue than acknowledged.
He expressed surprise at the finding that, despite vehicular accidents being the second leading cause of death among teenagers, most ranked driving while drunk, drugged, or distracted as a greater threat, indicating a critical need for enhanced education on the subject.
Preventing drowsy driving is a collective responsibility, Dzierzewski highlighted, advising drivers to be vigilant for signs of fatigue such as difficulty focusing, frequent yawning, and irritability. He recommended pulling over safely to rest, stretching, or consuming a caffeinated drink if one experiences these symptoms.
For extended journeys, Dzierzewski proposed traveling with a companion who can share the driving responsibilities and monitor for signs of fatigue. Regular stops every 100 miles or two hours are advised, but he cautioned against relying solely on caffeine, fresh air, or loud music as substitutes for sleep.
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, drowsy driving is implicated in approximately 20% of all motor vehicle crashes, with 20% of these incidents involving 16 to 24-year-olds, leading to an estimated 6,400 fatalities in the U.S. annually.