Drowsy teens at highest risk of being in a crash

Drowsy teens at highest risk of being in a crash

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - As the school year is nearing an end, teenagers will be up late studying for finals, finishing up projects and then heading to graduation parties. That means they're probably going to be tired. Add electronics to the mix, and for teens that drive, the end result could make for a dangerous situation.

McKenna Gossman, 18, says that her phone sometimes wakes her up at night.

"It always wakes me up because I leave my ringer on because I use it for my alarm. So, every time I get a text, it wakes me up," said Gossman.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2016, teen drivers accounted for nearly one out of every 10 fatal drowsy driving crashes.

Dr. Carolyn Ievers-Landis is a child psychologist with University Hospitals. She is also a sleep expert.

"I think of playing video games, or also being on their phones and texting until late in the evening. That makes them short, and then they are driving. They also have events that go later into the night, and that makes it very dangerous also," said Ievers-Landis.

Unlike adults, Ievers-Landis says teenagers are more likely to have an accident at night than during the day.

"If they get up at seven, they are up until midnight and driving home from a party, they are already at risk for getting into an accident," said Ievers-Landis.

What is a parent to do?

Levers-Landis said parents should be realistic. Not every child is going to get eight hours of sleep a night, every night. So, you need to adjust.

"If they're short on sleep, say, 'Maybe you should not be driving late at night. If you have a late night activity, maybe mom or dad should pick you up,'" added Ievers-Landis.

Parents should also limit how late their teen is sleeping in on the weekend.

"It's called social jet lag. When you sleep in on the weekend, but then you have to get up during the week, that also causes problems with driving," said Ievers-Landis.

McKenna's mom, Stephanie Lynne Gossman, tries to encourage her to get enough sleep.

"Just structure - you know try to encourage them to go to bed at a reasonable hour. Go to bed at 10, 11 o'clock - give yourself a good seven or eight hours of sleep at night," said Gossman.

Also, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine says electronics like video games, TV's, computers and cell phones should be kept out of teenager's bedrooms so that they sleep better.

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