By Tim Williams

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Younger drivers are more likely to drive while drowsy, according to a new study by AAA.

Tim Williams has more on the factors contributing to this dangerous trend.

For 16-year-old Hannah Coates, the challenges of driving are all brand new.

“It’s proven to be way harder than I thought it would be when I was in Drivers Ed,” Coates said.

Driving while drowsy is one of the concerns that she faces.

“Drowsy, yes, because kids are very busy today,” said her mom, Kathy Vitarelli.

“With school and after-school activities, you get really, really busy. And then you come home late to a ton of homework and then you wake up early and have to drive to school with [your] mom. Of course I’m yawning when I’m on the road and not really focused on where I’m going,” Coates said.

“Aggressive driving, distracted driving, impaired driving join drowsy driving as the leading contributors to traffic crashes,” said Christine Delise, AAA Mid-Atlantic.

A nine-year study conducted by the AAA Foundation found that young people are more likely to drive drowsy. One in seven licensed drivers ages 16 to 24 admitted to nodding off at least once while behind the wheel in the past year. The AAA study shows the dangers of drowsy driving mirror drunk driving in many ways.

“Drowsiness slows reaction time, impairs judgment and decreases awareness,” Delise said.

Signs of drowsy driving include difficulty keeping eyes open or rubbing them repeatedly, yawning, daydreaming or weaving lane to lane.

“Just take a 20 minute power nap, avoid heavy meals and, of course, abstain from alcohol,” Delise said.

“And if I really don’t think I can handle driving because I’m way too tired or exhausted, I hand the wheel over to my mom,” Coates said.

For more information on the study and tips on how to combat drowsy driving, click here.


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