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Overworked, overwhelmed and overtired. These adjectives describe far too many working American adults. They also describe a startling number of American teens. As the recovering economy puts pressure on teens to get into a good college and even to help provide a share of their families' income, they can suffer understandable fatigue under the weight of their responsibilities. And of course, teens tend to be tired anyway due to biological changes and a tendency to stay up far too late for their own good.

All these factors contribute to the fact that teens are at higher risk of dying in car accidents inspired by drowsy driving than any other population of drivers. According to a recently released survey conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a minimum of one in seven drivers between the ages of 16 and 24 has fallen asleep at the wheel within the last year.

Though the dangers of distracted and intoxicated driving are well known and well understood, younger drivers are less apt to recognize and appreciate the hazards associated with drowsy driving, according to the CEO and president of the AAA Foundation. He recently explained, "That's a deadly combination," he says. "When most drivers think they're too tired to drive, they should probably already be off the street."

Given that drowsy driving is a factor in one in six fatal motor vehicle accidents nationwide, it deserves just as much attention as distracted and drunk driving do. Drowsy driving is incredibly dangerous and young drivers must be taught that if they make the irresponsible decision to drive while overtired, they will be held accountable for any harm that their actions cause to others.

Source: USA Today, "Young more at risk for drowsy driving," Larry Copeland, Nov. 8, 2012

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