A study recently released by JAMA Pediatrics finds that younger drivers are at greater risk of crashing when sleeping fewer than six hours per night. Conducted in Australia, the study focused on drivers between the ages of seventeen and twenty-four. The participant pool numbered almost twenty-one thousand drivers, who responded to questionnaires regarding their first year of driving. The study coupled these responses with police-reported crash data and performed a regression analysis to determine the results.
The study found that the young drivers who had slept less than six hours were at greater risk for accidents than those who received more than six hours. Risks were increased during the periods between eight at night and six in the morning. Finally, on weekends, those with fewer than six hours of sleep ran a greater risk of crashing off-road.
As noted, the study was conducted in Australia, but the drivers’ ages correspond with the ages that many youths in the United States receive their licenses. The minimum driving age in the US most likely will not change. One main takeaway from the study is the need for diligence on the parts of youths and their parents to ensure that young drivers, while still adjusting to life behind the wheel, are rested enough to avoid unnecessary accidents due to lack of sleep. Dangers and risks of injury on the road are manifold for inexperienced drivers without adding a layer of sleep deprivation to the equation.
An abstract of the study can be found here.