Asleep at the Wheel: A National Compendium of Efforts to Eliminate Drowsy Driving was released today by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at the 2017 Managing Fatigue Conference in San Diego. The statistics on teen drowsy driving shed light on why the non-profit Start School Later was one of the organizations that contributed to this new report.
As outlined in the report, U.S. drivers ages 16 to 24 years old who were involved in a crash were nearly twice as likely to be drowsy at the time of the crash compared to drivers ages 40 to 59. Of all age groups, teens and young adults were most likely to have reported falling asleep at the wheel in the past year.
“It is gratifying to see NHTSA and so many other stakeholders recognize the role that sleep and school start times play in public health and safety,” says Start School Later Executive Director and Co-Founder Dr. Terra Ziporyn Snider. “It is equally gratifying for Start School Later to be able to contribute to this national coordinated effort given the growing evidence linking early school bells to teen car crashes.”
“We often forget that youngest and most inexperienced drivers are also the most vulnerable to sleep loss,” Snider explains. “That is why school start times that allow students to get healthy sleep can do much to improve public safety.”
The compendium highlights many of Start School Later’s initiatives to reduce drowsy driving in adolescents, including the National Adolescent Sleep, Health, and School Start Times National Conference being held April 27 and 28 in Washington, DC. The conference aims to help policy-makers and community leaders understand the science and logistics in adopting healthier and safer school day start times. Conference and registration information can be found at www.schoolstarttimeconference.org.
The plan also highlights Sleep 101, a one-hour interactive online program for college students developed jointly by Start School Later’s educational arm, Healthy Hours, and the Sleep Health Institute at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The program incorporates videos, animations, and games relevant to sleep and college life, including a test of reaction times and a game about ways to avoid drowsy driving.
The new NHTSA report can be accessed in full at: https://www.nhtsa.gov/sites/nhtsa.dot.gov/files/documents/12723-drowsy_driving_asleep_at_the_wheel_031917_v4b_tag.pdf.