Poor Sleep Linked to More Car Accidents in Teenagers

Male gender and use of tobacco also associated with a higher risk of crashes
By A. Agrawal, PhD
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Feb. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Poor sleep habits are associated with a higher risk of car accidents among teenagers, according to a study in the Feb. 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

Fabio Pizza, M.D., and colleagues from the University of Bologna in Italy surveyed 339 Italian high school students with a driver's license regarding sleep quality, driving habits, and self-reported car crashes.

The researchers found that 19 percent of students reported poor sleep, 64 percent reported daytime sleepiness, and 40 percent reported sleepiness while driving. At least one previous crash was reported by 24 percent of students (76 percent males), and 15 percent said that sleepiness was the main cause. The likelihood of a crash was significantly higher in males (odds ratio, 3.3), with tobacco use (odds ratio, 3.2), with sleepiness while driving (odds ratio, 2.1), and with poor sleep (odds ratio, 1.9).

"Our results confirm the high prevalence of sleep-related complaints among adolescents and highlight their independent role on self-reported crash risk," Pizza and colleagues conclude. "Bad sleep, sleepiness at the wheel, male sex and some unhealthy lifestyle habits increased the risk for car crashes among young drivers."

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