Sleep Deprivation a Big Factor in Teen Motor Accidents

A substantial amount of drowsy driving accidents occur within the teen driving years. This is no coincidence. It has long been known that most teens are sleep deprived and are often required to drive after little to no sleep.

Exams, after school jobs and social activities take up much of a teen’s life. Teens are expected to drive, those are the years during which American’s learn to drive. Add to this, the fact that a teen brain needs more sleep than an adult brain and you have a recipe for driving disaster.

Any drowsy driver can cause considerable harm and even death. Driving a car or truck while sleepy is dangerous but driving a long haul truck, heavy equipment or other large industrial vehicle can be especially dangerous but the most at risk population of drivers for drowsy driving accidents are teen drivers.

Studies have shown that teen drivers show a disproportionately large number in the ratio of drowsy driving accidents. Within a 12 month study, one in seven drivers ages 16 – 24 have admitted to dozing off behind the wheel while driving. Be it due to late night study sessions or all night parties, this has become a serious problem on the American roadway.

Teen drivers, according to one study, are 80% more likely to be involved in a motor vehicle accident after falling asleep than any other age group. Approximately 10% have admitted to falling asleep while driving. There is thought to be an even higher number of those who do not admit to driving drowsy and/or falling asleep behind the wheel.

Driving drowsy, in recent research, has shown itself to be equivalent to driving drunk in range of impairment. While drowsy driving is a legitimate safety issue, the public at large is far more lenient when it comes to drowsy driving as opposed to drunk driving.

The dangers of drowsy driving are recognized and the injuries it causes are very real. However, this permissive attitude is the reason so many people admit to and continue to drive without getting the sleep they need. To so many teens and even adults, driving without sleep doesn’t register as dangerous and even deadly.

While many drivers of all age groups drive while sleepy, teens pose a greater risk because of their lack of experience behind the wheel. Their limited years of driving have afforded them less time on the road and less experience responding to road crises and emergencies.

Research of teen brains and how they work has pointed out that teen drivers have a slower response time to vehicles that are not moving as well as potential road hazards and obstruction. Lack of sleep emphasizes these weaknesses in driving skills and poses the potential for even more injury to driver, passenger and other vehicle commuters.

Teens and others driving while sleepy can experience any of the following:

• Impaired reaction times
• Falling asleep
• Slow reactions
• Diminished judgment

The Philadelphia Children’s Hospital teen driving research states the teens who get less than 8 hours of sleep per night are one third more likely to be involved in a drowsy driving accident. Their research also showed that the majority of all drowsy driving accidents are caused by a drive under the age of 24. The study showed that being awake for 18 hours or more slows the ability to drive to the level of someone legally drunk, a level .08 alcohol blood level.

One issue that crops up in sleepy driver accidents is proof. When a driver is guilty of D.U.I. field sobriety tests can prove their fault. The same goes for texting or talking on a phone while driving. The driver’s phone records can prove their guilt.

Driving while sleepy is far harder a case to prove. Retaining counsel from Moseley Collins ensures you have a competent, experienced lawyer who is experienced in proving drowsy driver cases.

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