Another factor that can be added to the list is driver fatigue. While there have been many studies about drowsy driving conducted over the last several years, many of them have not focused on younger drivers.

A new one from Australia has. The study found that drivers ages 17 to 24 are roughly 20 percent more likely to have a car accident if they reported getting six or fewer hours of sleep per night compared with people in the same age group who reported getting at least six hours of sleep every night.

Researchers say that the effects of drowsy driving tend to be more pronounced among younger drivers. However, to date, few studies have focused on the sleepiness of the younger drivers on the road.

The difference between the groups was quite dramatic. 9.4 percent of the group that got less sleep was involved in an accident over the two-year study period compared with just 6.9 percent of the group that got more sleep.

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This study should serve as a wakeup call — no pun intended — to parents of young drivers. We already know that limited sleep can affect school performance; parents need to make sure that their kids are getting sufficient sleep not just to perform well in school but to arrive there safely in the first place.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Teens Short On Sleep Have Higher Car Accident Risk, Study Finds,” Rachael Rettner, May 20, 2013

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