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Sleepy Teen Pedestrians More Likely to Get Hit, UAB Study Says

  • May 07, 2012
University of Alabama at Birmingham study reveals sleep-deprived adolescents are more likely to be hit by cars while crossing the street than those who are well-rested.
Aaron_Davis_2011_06University of Alabama at Birmingham study reveals sleep-deprived adolescents are more likely to be hit by cars while crossing the street than those who are well-rested.

“These 14- and 15-year-olds are perceived to be safe pedestrians, but we found that when they are sleepy they take more risks when crossing the street,” said Aaron Davis, M.A., author of the study and a doctoral candidate in the UAB Department of Psychology. “At this age they walk more because they can’t drive, and that is disconcerting because our results show they are 56 percent more likely to be hit by a car or experience a close call while crossing a street fatigued.”

Adolescents require more sleep, a minimum of 8.5 hours uninterrupted each night, than young children. Davis, whose work on this subject recently won the Student Poster Award at the Midwest Regional Conference on Pediatric Psychology, studied 55 adolescents in a virtual reality pedestrian environment at the UAB Youth Safety Lab. Student sleep was measured for two weeks by actigraphy. Participants wore the actigraph watch, and each was studied after sleeping four hours and eight and a half hours. The research revealed teens that slept four hours experienced more hits, more close calls and took more time to initiate crossings; however, adolescents with a full night sleep missed more safe opportunities to cross the street.