Cell phones, Sleep, Key Factors in Keeping Teen Pedestrians Safe

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by | Sep 18, 2013 | Auto Accidents

It is well-known that talking on a cell phone puts teen drivers at more risk for a collision.  But how about “distracted pedestrians”? Given the proliferation of the cell phone, more teen pedestrians are talking and walking at the same time.  While this may not seem to be a big deal on the surface, talking or manipulating a cell phone keypad steals your attention and diminishes your ability to keep a careful lookout for turning vehicles and other hazards that may cause a pedestrian to trip and fall.

Lack of sleep is a major problem affecting teenagers, who may find that their constant socializing, social media use, friend networks, school and other activities leave them little time to get the required eight hours of sleep per night recommended for people in their age group. That lack of sleep may also be exacerbated by early school timings, which require teenagers to be up and about in the early hours of the morning, when they have went to sleep very late the previous night.

According to new research, such teenagers may be at a much higher risk of pedestrian accidents.

The research found that teenagers who had very little sleep the previous night, were much more likely to be struck by a vehicle while crossing the road. The experiment was conducted on 55 teenagers between the age of 14 and 15 at the Youth Safety Lab at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The researchers found that teenagers who had just 4 hours of sleep the night before the experiment took much more time to finish crossing the street. They also crossed with less time before they were struck by a vehicle, and also had many more near misses, compared to teenagers who had 8 ½  hours of sleep the previous night.

The researchers also found that teenagers’ ability to cross the road safely and avoid accidents, could be affected even by one night of bad sleep. The implications for teen pedestrians are enormous, considering that so many teenagers have very irregular sleeping patterns. Other research has also confirmed the negative impact of reduced sleep on a person’s driving abilities. Teenagers who are already inexperienced, novice drivers, may be even more strongly affected by fatigue and drowsiness at the wheel, compared to adult drivers.

Doug Horn is a Missouri car accident lawyer, dedicated to the representation of victims of car accidents across Missouri.

In addition to handling motor vehicle accident cases, Horn is founder of Drive By Example, a Kansas City based community service organization dedicated to advancing driver’s safety. Horn is especially involved with distracted driving prevention, devoting much of his time to teen driver protection.