Tag Archives: Teen Driving

Teens and Drowsy Driving

Teens and Drowsy Driving

By Dr. Jana PriceTeenager sleeping after prepare for Exam at the Home. Focus on the Clock

Sleepiness while driving can have serious consequences. The NTSB has investigated numerous crashes in which driver drowsiness played a role. Today marks the first anniversary of one of those crashes.

On March 20, 2016, four teens were traveling home from a weekend trip to South Padre Island, Texas. At about 1:57 pm, the driver lost control of the car, crossed the center median, entered the opposing lanes of traffic, and collided with a truck-tractor semitrailer. The driver was seriously injured and her three friends died. The Board determined that that the driver’s loss of control was due to inattention resulting from her fatigue.

NTSB investigators learned that, in the 24 hours before the crash, the driver had very little opportunity for sleep—only about 5 hours on the morning of the crash.

According to the CDC, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States, and recent AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety research shows that one in five fatal crashes involves a drowsy driver. Other research shows that drivers aged 16 to 24 are at the greatest risk of being involved in a drowsy driving crash.

In a recent AAA Foundation study, many drivers who understood the risks of drowsy driving admitted they had, nonetheless, driven while fatigued. Specifically, the AAA survey found that 96 percent of drivers see drowsy driving as a serious threat and a completely unacceptable behavior; however, among that same group, 3 in 10 admitted to driving when they were so tired that they had a hard time keeping their eyes open.

Lack of sleep slows reaction time and makes us more susceptible to forgetting or overlooking important tasks. A few seconds is all it takes to drift out of the lane or to miss a stopped vehicle ahead.

Although it’s not always possible to predict when you will become drowsy behind the wheel, there are several steps you can take to help avoid this risk. Today, to call attention to the risk posed by driving drowsy, the NTSB is releasing a new Safety Alert, Drowsy Driving Among Young Drivers.

Jana Price, PhD, is a Senior Human Performance Investigator in NTSB’s Office of Highway Safety.

NTSB Takes Safety Message to North Carolina’s Catawba County Youth

By Nicholas Worrell

Photo of Nicholas Worrell and students at NCNAACPWhen I asked the audience at the Catawba County Branch of the North Carolina NAACP in Maiden if they could identify the leading cause of death in teens, they replied with silence.

After waiting in vain for an answer, I told them. “Motor vehicle crashes,” I said, and explained that teens are 1.6 times more likely to die in motor vehicle crashes than adults.

NTSB Safety Advocate Stephanie Shaw and I were invited to this November 13 meeting by the chapter’s youth director, Lacolia Mungro, whose experiences driving an 18wheeler have encouraged her to spread the message about the risks of distracted driving.

I told the audience that 35,092 people died on US roadways in 2015, which is more than 10 times the population of Maiden. That number is on track to be even higher this year, which has prompted the NTSB to include issues like distracted driving, impaired driving, and fatigue on our 2017–2018 Most Wanted List of transportation safety improvements. We emphasize outreach to teens because that demographic, overrepresented in highway crashes, has more to lose than older drivers, considering the years of life ahead of them and the milestones they have yet to experience, like graduation, job success, marriage, and raising children. Missing out on those life experiences is a stiff price to pay because of one bad choice made early in life.

We also seek out opportunities to speak to teens because they represent tomorrow’s road safety culture. It’s essential to instill safe driving practices in teens who have not yet accumulated a lifetime of unsafe driving habits.

In 2014, 40,650 crashes in North Carolina involved teenagers; 95 were killed and 10,491 were injured. As I told the group in Maiden, a properly worn seat belt is the greatest protection against injury and death in a vehicle accident. Of those 95 teens killed in 2014, 33 were not wearing seat belts.

“No call, no text, no update is worth a human life,” I told the audience. Then I encouraged them to join our advocacy efforts by buckling up and turning off their phones or putting them out of reach, because no one should have to miss out on life because of one bad decision made in youth.

Nicholas Worrell is the Chief of NTSB’s Safety Advocacy division

AAA Teen Distracted Driving Study Shows Need for Cultural Shift

By Kelly Nantel

When teens crash cars, they are usually driving distracted.

That’s the conclusion of a new naturalistic study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The study examined real-time video focusing on teen drivers involved in crashes. More than half – 58% – were distracted by tasks other than driving. Nearly nine of out of 10 crashes when the car ran off the road involved distraction, as did more than three of four rear-end crashes.

Distraction Roundtable flyerDr. Jurek Grabowski, Director of Research at the AAA Foundation, will be just one of many participants in NTSB’s “Disconnect from Deadly Distractions” roundtable on March 31 in Washington. The day-long series of discussions will focus on distractions in all modes of transportation.

The roundtable is structured to encourage a true dialog among attendees, where researchers, law enforcement, industry, safety advocacy groups, and regulators will be free to build on – and/or debate –findings from across modes and across disciplines.

In just a few years, the use of portable electronic devices, or PEDs, has grown explosively. Teen drivers – and all drivers – have suddenly had to contend with new distractions in transportation.

But the distractions that AAA noted in its most recent study were not limited to PEDs. Such activities as grooming and dancing also preceded several crashes.

And, as both the AAA Foundation and the NTSB have long noted, using a hands-free phone does not eliminate distraction. Even hands-free phones pose the risk of cognitive distraction. In “Roadhouse Blues” Jim Morrison sang “Keep your eyes on the road, your hands upon the wheel.” That’s good advice. But your mind must be on the driving task as well.

The same goes for operators of every kind of vehicle in transportation, from commercial motor vehicles to aircraft to ships and trains. The beauty of a multimodal discussion is that lessons learned in the cockpit or the pilothouse can be applied to the driver’s seat – or vice versa.

The NTSB-hosted roundtable discussion will cover 5 topical tracks:

  • The Science of Distraction;
  • Education, Legislation and Enforcement;
  • Technology and Engineering;
  • Policy and Regulation; and
  • Future Endeavors/Challenges.

In a culture that fosters a myth of multitasking, we will need a cultural shift to eliminate distraction in transportation. We hope that the conversation on March 31 will bring us a step closer to that shift. The roundtable is open to the public to attend and observe. Details on the event can be found at http://www.ntsb.gov/news/events/Pages/2015_Distraction_forum.aspx.