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Driving While Drowsy

Jadon Khor, News Reporter

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Students from high school to college are increasingly risking their lives, and fellow drivers to
drive while sleepy. While thinking that they can be an exception, it only makes themselves a
statistic.

Drowsy driving is on the uptake since a decade ago, now accounting for 21 percent of all fatal
motor vehicle crashes, according to the American Automobile Association Foundation for
Traffic Safety. In young drivers from ages 16-24, the Foundation found that more than 50
percent of all crashes are due to this demographic. In a 2012 JAMA Internal Medicine survey,
these types of sleepy crashes are much more common and just as dangerous as driving while
intoxicated.

Factors contributing to the increase of drowsy driving is the teenage body’s internal clock, or
their Circadian Rhythm. The 2016 Report on Adolescent Divergences during Puberty made by
the Mayo Clinic showed that puberty pushes the teen Circadian Rhythm by four to five hours,
making most teens feel tired around midnight or 1 p.m. At Newsome, the morning bell rings at
8:30 a.m., only giving the average students about 7 hours of full sleep.

Teenagers are also putting off sleep for other activities, such as going out with friends late at
night, or staying up to watch on their computers. These types of activities are pushing back
regular teen sleeping hours by almost 30 minutes according to the same study.

To combat these events, a study by the Florida Department of Motor Vehicle found that a later
start date in schools can lead to a significant drop in drowsy car accidents by 70 percent in
certain districts. These reductions in time are even more apparent when schools put off the bell
later in the day around 9 a.m.

If a student isn’t getting enough sleep, other outside factors and lifestyle changes can be made
to help ensure enough sleep. Another Mayo Clinic study found that children will feel more
refreshed in the mornings when they stick to certain schedules to resynch their internal clocks
and stop taking long naps. The study finds that when teens stop curbing their sleeping times,
their melatonin hormones, the hormones telling the body to sleep, will consistently release
around the same times.

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The student news site of Newsome High School
Driving While Drowsy