​​​​Liberty Mutual Insurance and SADD help parents worry less with tips on how to prevent teens from falling asleep behind the wheel

Teens’ lives are increasingly hectic from extracurricular activities, homework, work and other activities, all of which are likely to leave teens sleep deprived. As daylight grows shorter and mornings are darker, new research conducted by Liberty Mutual Insurance and SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions), reveals that over half (56 percent) of licensed teens admit to having driven when they felt too tired to drive their best, 32 percent are driving drowsy at least sometimes, and nearly one in ten teens have completely fallen asleep at the wheel while driving.

“Drowsiness impairs driving performance and reaction time,” said William Horrey, Ph.D., principal research scientist at the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety. “When our brains are tired, our attention, judgment and ability to act are greatly impacted, which has the potential for disaster on the road, particularly if there’s inclement weather or a critical situation requiring quick response. The situation can be exacerbated when the driver is a teenager without much experience. If parents, however, address this issue head on, they can foster safer driving practices to help remind their teens the importance of staying alert on the road.” 

Parents may also be unwittingly contributing to drowsy driving behaviors. In fact, 39 percent of teens surveyed said that household and family responsibilities impacted their sleep but only 11 percent of parents believed this contributed to their teens not getting an adequate amount. Additionally, 42 percent of teens said they aren’t getting enough sleep due to early morning activities, whereas only 19 percent of parents think the activities are the culprit.  

“The pressures of school, sports, extracurricular activities and friends can be overwhelming, and teens may not always have the confidence or self-awareness to raise a hand and ask for help if they’re running on empty,” said Dr. Gene Beresin, senior advisor on adolescent psychiatry with SADD and Executive Director of The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds at Massachusetts General Hospital. “Parents should have routine conversations with their teens beginning with open-ended questions to gauge the teen’s perspective on why they may be prone to drowsy driving. One good path to less worry is for parents to help teens map out their schedules to ensure they get enough sleep before early morning activities and have a ride home if staying out late.” 

How Parents can Help Prevent Teens from Driving Drowsy

When it comes to changing teens’ behaviors on the road, it’s essential for parents to realize the important role that they play. Liberty Mutual and SADD offer the following tips:

  • Be flexible: 56 percent of teens have taken measures to wake up (i.e., opening up the windows) when driving. Proactively talk to your teens about how they manage their busy schedules to ensure they stay alert behind the wheel. Parents should also be open to candid feedback on how the teen’s schedule may need adjusting.     
  • Call for a ride: 34 percent of teens admit to having called for a ride instead of driving when they’re too tired. Teach teens to call for a ride and research options in advance if they feel they are at risk of falling asleep.   
  • Set Expectations: Parents and teens should use the Teen Driving Contract from Liberty Mutual Insurance and SADD as a conversation starter and discussion guide. This tool covers important safety issues and is an easy roadmap for parents and teens alike to uphold family driving rules.  

For more information, visit www.libertymutual.com/teendriving.


Study Methodology

Liberty Mutual Insurance and SADD commissioned Olson Zaltman to conduct implicit association testing with teens, and commissioned ORC International to conduct a quantitative survey that measured teen driving attitudes and behaviors. The implicit association testing (IAT) part of the Teen Driving Study was conducted February 10-29, 2016, among 2,650 teens, and the survey was conducted April 4-28, 2016, among 2,500 teens from high schools across the country. 

Overall the findings from the Teen Driving Study can be interpreted at a 95 percent confidence interval, with an error margin of +/- 1 percent (IAT) and +/-1.9 percent (survey). Error margins for subsets such as licensed drivers will be wider. Additionally, the study included a survey of 1,000 parents of teenage drivers in high school that has an overall error margin of +/- 3.1 percent.


About Liberty Mutual Insurance

Liberty Mutual Insurance helps people preserve and protect what they earn, build, own and cherish. Keeping this promise means we are there when our policyholders throughout the world need us most.

In business since 1912, and headquartered in Boston, Mass., today Liberty Mutual is a diversified insurer with operations in 30 countries and economies around the world. We are the fifth largest property and casualty insurer in the U.S. based on 2015 direct written premium data as reported by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. We also rank 73rd on the Fortune 100 list of largest corporations in the U.S. based on 2015 revenue. Liberty employs over 50,000 people in more than 900 offices throughout the world.  

The fifth largest auto and home insurer in the U.S., Liberty Mutual (libertymutual.com) sells full lines of coverage for automobile, homeowners, valuable possessions, personal liability, and individual life insurance. We are an industry leader in affinity partnerships, offering car and home insurance to employees and members of more than 14,000 companies, credit unions, professional associations and alumni groups.

About SADD

Founded in 1981, SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) is the nation’s premier youth health and safety organization. SADD empowers young people with tools and resources needed to confront the risks and pressures they face every day including substance abuse, impaired and distracted driving, mental health and more. Through informed programming and a national peer-to-peer network, SADD is shaping young people into leaders and advocates of youth health and safety in their schools and communities. There are hundreds of thousands of active SADD students across all 50 states and millions of successful alumni. Join the SADD movement at sadd.org and follow SADD on Facebook, Twitter​, YouTube ​and Instagram.


Media Contacts:

Glenn Greenberg
Liberty Mutual Insurance

Melinda Bonner
360 Public Relations

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