10 Rules for Teen Driving
The Dangers of Drowsiness
You can't underestimate that old enemy, fatigue. "My kids are very busy," says Cheryl Sommer, the mother of two teen drivers, Eric and his brother, Adam, 16. "They have school projects, homework, extracurricular activities, prep for standardized tests. Some of their friends also have jobs at fast-food restaurants that may keep them at work until midnight. They then drive themselves to school in the morning, when they're exhausted after getting very little sleep."
Nodding off in the classroom is bad enough but doing it behind the wheel may be deadly. In fact, a North Carolina study found that drivers 25 and younger were involved in 55 percent of crashes in which the driver fell asleep. "I'd say that driving drowsy is as dangerous as driving drunk," says Judy Weber-Jones, a driver's education teacher at the school Eric and Adam attend. "Teens might take over the wheel if they see that the driver has been drinking or drugging, but if the person is simply exhausted, not many kids would think it's serious enough to intervene."
The solution is simple, says Weber-Jones. If you suspect that your kid hasn't had enough sleep, drive him to school. If he's out late, be sure he understands that no matter what the hour, you would rather come and pick him up than have him (or the friend who's giving him a ride home) fall asleep in the driver's seat.