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Keeping teen drivers safe from drowsy driving crashes

If you have read our San Diego personal injury blog for any length of time, you are probably well aware of the high risk of car accident, injury and death faced by teen drivers in California and across the country. In fact, car accidents are the leading cause of death among teenagers, according to federal data. Many traffic safety officials attribute the elevated crash risk to alcohol use or distraction in teen drivers, and those are certainly some of the main causes of accidents involving teens. However, it is important not to overlook the other factors that play into teen crashes.

One such factor is drowsiness. Federal data indicates that sleep deprivation plays in to about one in five car accidents, and half of those crashes involve drivers who are between the ages of 16 and 25. Simply put, being overtired significantly impairs a driver's reaction time and ability to drive safely. Someone who has been continuously awake for 24 hours has an impairment level equivalent to a blood alcohol concentration of 0.10 percent. That is 0.02 percent over the legal limit for drunk driving.

So what can be done to prevent drowsy driving accidents? The first step is increasing awareness of the problem. Teens need to be educated on the risks of driving while tired, and parents need to take action to ban them from getting behind the wheel when they are sleep-deprived.

It is also important for parents to set a good example. If you are too tired to drive, make a point of asking your spouse for a ride or taking the bus or train, and encourage your teenager to do the same.

Source: philly.com, "Drowsy driving creates danger for teens," Katherine Dahlsgaard, Sept. 23, 2012

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