How to prevent your teen from driving drowsy

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‘Tis almost the season for festivities, gatherings and all that is good as we prepare for the holidays and having our college teen back home.

It’s also the time for exams, which means long nights of studying and even longer drowsy days. This is a fact. What is also a fact is that chances are your teen, like mine, will try to drive somewhere in this low-attention state.

Most parents, and certainly many teens, don’t really think much of driving a short distance while a bit exhausted. However, the number of teens who do this is rather high and quite dangerous for the rest of us. In fact, new research conducted by Liberty Mutual Insurance and SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions), revealed that 56% of licensed teens have admitted to driving when they felt too tired to drive their best, 32% are driving drowsy at least sometimes and nearly 1 in 10 teens have completely fallen asleep at the wheel while driving. One in every ten. Those are scary numbers.

How can we, as parents and guardians, protect our teens and others from harm? It all comes back to asking them questions and engaging them in conversation. Dr. Gene Beresin, senior advisor on adolescent psychiatry with SADD and Executive Director of The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds at Massachusetts General Hospital suggests, “Parents should have routine conversations with their teens beginning with open-ended questions to gauge the teen’s perspective on why they may be prone to drowsy driving. One good path to less worry is for parents to help teens map out their schedules to ensure they get enough sleep before early morning activities and have a ride home if staying out late.”

Liberty Mutual and SADD offer the following tips:

  • Be flexible: 56 percent of teens have taken measures to wake up (i.e., opening up the windows) when driving. Proactively talk to your teens about how they manage their busy schedules to ensure they stay alert behind the wheel. Parents should also be open to candid feedback on how the teen’s schedule may need adjusting.    
  • Call for a ride: 34 percent of teens admit to having called for a ride instead of driving when they’re too tired. Teach teens to call for a ride and research options in advance if they feel they are at risk of falling asleep. 
  • Set Expectations: Parents and teens should use the Teen Driving Contract from Liberty Mutual Insurance and SADD as a conversation starter and discussion guide. This tool covers important safety issues and is an easy roadmap for parents and teens alike to uphold family driving rules.

In short, whether it be during high exam season or busy sports season, check in on your tired teens, make sure they are alert, energized, and awake, and if in doubt, offer to be their ride. Our schedules may be busy too, but it’s worth the extra effort to keep the ones we love safe.

For more information, tips, and services visit www.libertymutual.com/teendriving.

This post is in partnership with Liberty Mutual Insurance. All opinions are my own.

         

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Carol Cain

Carol is her happiest when on an adventure, either close to home or farther away. She's the mom to three fun boys and wife to a handsome Irish/Scot. She lives in New Jersey with her happy crew, but will always be a girl from Brooklyn. You can read her full profile here.

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