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Snoozing and Driving

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It’s Spring time! Midterms and finals will soon be over. But for now, there is no shortage of sleep-deprived teens. Most health professionals accept the fact that teens require more than nine hours of sleep to feel rested and alert. But how many Hills West Students get this amount? Between studying, extracurricular activities, social activities, and other obligations, sleeping nine hours is only a dream for many. In a random inquiry, the majority of students here at West reported four to six hours of sleep! Some night owls even reported pulling all-nighters during midterms and finals week.

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This lack of sleep leads to high-risk dozy driving among teens. Much needed attention has been given to the issues of drinking while driving and texting while driving. However, it’s important for the public to become aware of the dangers of snoozing and driving. After all, JAMA Internal Medicine reported a study conducted in 2012 that found sleeping while driving carried a similar risk rate as driving while intoxicated.  According to an article written in the Journal of Sleep Medicine (2011), students who start school earlier in the day have a higher rate of car crashes. Interestingly, when one county moved the school start time to one hour later, it was noted that the incidence of accidents among teens dropped by 16.5%! Consider the fact that many teen drivers still don’t use seat belts, we have a dozy and dopy dilemma. In a 2015 study, the CDC reported that “compared with other age groups, teens have among the lowest rates of seat belt use.” In 2015, only 61% of high school students reported that they always wear seat belts when riding with someone else. So as the school year ends and West students are in their final stretch of another academic year, reflect on these statistics. Whether you are the driver or a passenger with friends, buckle up and don’t snooze, drink, or text while driving. Here’s to an awesome summer ahead!