Teens Aren’t Bad Drivers, They’re Just Sleepy

Teens Aren’t Bad Drivers, They’re Just Sleepy

A new study has found that sleep deprivation is one of the major causes of motor vehicle crashes among young Australian drivers. Hooning around while drunk is apparently secondary.

Sleeping driver picture from Shutterstock

Pediatric researchers from the University of Sydney examined the association between sleep and motor vehicle crashes by interviewing 20,822 newly licensed drivers between the ages of 17 and 24. They found that a lack of sufficient sleep significantly increased the risk of crashing for young drivers, particularly on weekend nights.

Additionally, the study found that while approximately 80 per cent of young adult’s driving occurs during the daytime, around 60 per cent of young driver deaths occur once the sun goes down.

“Sleeping [no more than] six hours a night is enough to put young drivers at significant risk of having a car crash. With work, study and social commitments, especially on weekends, it is easy to miss out on the extra hours of sleep we need,” associate professor Alexandra Martiniuk said in a statement.

“The findings point to the urgent need for education campaigns targeting young drivers, especially the newly licensed, around the importance of sleep and road safety.”

As the report notes, sleepiness is associated with lapses in attention, slowed reaction time and impairments in judgment. But what about all the other contributing factors that make night crashes more likely, such as poorer road vision and a higher likelihood to be intoxicated or engaged in reckless driving?

Rather lamely, the researchers suggest that sleepiness can lead to increased aggression and risky behavior “effects that are also magnified by alcohol consumption”.

The report concludes that changes to road design and education campaigns are needed to reduce the seriousness of crashes due to sleepiness. In the meantime, young drivers are urged to use rest stops, drink coffee and play the radio during nocturnal jaunts.

Sleep-Deprived Young Drivers and the Risk of for Crash: The DRIVE Prospective Cohort Study [JAMA Pediatrics]


  • yea…. im pretty sure this is not limit to just those between 17 and 24, everyone gets effected by lack of sleep and of course doing a dangerous act like driving while tired is going to make the act even more dangerous and therefore have more prevalence in any statistics taken.

    unfortunately some anti-hoon government muppet will jump on this and attempt to bring back the law, that was rightfully shot down last time, banning p platers from driving after a certain time of night, because what struggling uni students/p platers is another set of jobs they cant do because they cant drive home

  • Judging by the start of your comment, You fall in the category of this article and are somewhat offended by it, Teens lack experience, and as you have shown an ignorance towards the full effect of what this article is portraying. I suggest you take a look from a different perspective, That being a family member or close friend being killed by one of these drivers. I have witnessed this first hand and although I sympathize with your last comment, Laws need to be revised to make sure teens are using a motor vehicle safely. To keep it simple, it comes down to the “Some people ruin it for others” and it’s a shame.

    • I agree with you here, it really is a shame, I’m one of those teens though who uses my car to travel to and from school, as well as home from work, which can be as late as 1 a.m sometimes, when buses don’t run and I’m not even sure about trains but at the same time i’d probably have to wait even longer to get home rather than the 10 minute drive I take at those times. So for me, if they introduced a law saying I couldn’t drive after a certain time it’d really interfere with my life.

    • People blame L/P Platers or teen drivers for accidents due to inexperience. To a large extent that is true. Its tragic when they do cause fatalities. No question about it. But yes teens, L/P Platers will get offended since many try to drive safely, but it is the few who as you say, ‘ruin it for others’.

      With that said, but it is also the case that fully licensed drivers become overconfident of their own abilities such as for example believing that their driving is less affected by sleep/hazardous conditions/alcohol simply because they are more experienced at driving. Drivers both young and old, experienced and inexperienced are affected by these things…

      In addition to that, fully licensed drivers just get lazy and dont always obey the road rules. To name a few thing I’ve seen just today, a fully licensed driver decided to go through a roundabout without giving way to the cars that were already in it, another car did not stop at a pedestrian crossing, and I there were also a couple of cars turning left in a right hand turn lane…across the path of other cars turning left.

      Also, FYI, I’m not a teenager not a L/P Plater.

  • Murderers aren’t bad people, they’re just stabby.

    Also, why is Rupert Grint asleep behind the wheel of his car? Unless it’s the flying car with a mind of its own, he should really wake up.

    * NB: I know what the study says, I just felt like putting the stabby line in for fun.

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