Young drivers who don’t get enough sleep are at a significant risk of having a car accident, according to a study published in the May 21 edition of the journal Pediatrics. Sleeping less on weekends can put young drivers at greater risk of having a car crash at night, as well as having an increased risk of run-off-road crashes.
Sleepiness is associated with lapses in attention, slowed reaction time, impairments in judgment, difficulty regulating emotions (including aggression) and risky behavior. These effects also are magnified by alcohol consumption.
The Australian study examined the association between sleep and motor vehicle crashes in more than 20,000 newly licensed drivers ages 17 to 24 years and found that 86% of young-driver deaths happen between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.
“Sleeping six hours a night is enough to put young drivers at significant risk of having a car crash, said
Alexandra Martiniuk, lead researcher and associate professor of the George Institute for Global Health and the University of Sydney.
Lifestyle factors—such as academic responsibilities, socialization and an increased use of mobile devices—are among the contributing causes of less sleep in adolescents and young adults.