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Montana Traffic Education News - November 2017

drowsydriving_nov2017.jpgSleep-Deprived Teens, Drowsy Driving Risks and Smart Phones

Travelers are making plans to gather with family and friends and drowsy teens may be behind the wheel. According to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS-2017), Montana teens reported that 36.9 percent sleep less than seven hours on an average school night. The PBS News Hour reported in October that “smartphones are linked to unprecedented sleep deprivation in teens. Analysis of two large national surveys finds the number of U.S. teens who reported sleeping less than seven hours a night jumped 22 percent between 2012 and 2015, by which time 43 percent of teens reported sleeping less than seven hours most nights, though sleep experts agree adolescents need at least nine hours. Contributing factors in the smartphone effect are the portable nature of these electronics and the sleep disruption their blue light causes." See the abstract and more on this story.

The CDC has an infographic and good information about how to prevent falling asleep at the wheel.  Here are some warning signs:

  • Yawning or blinking frequently.
  • Difficulty remembering the past few miles driven.
  • Missing your exit.
  • Drifting from your lane.
  • Hitting a rumble strip on the side of the road.

If you experience any of these warnings signs, pull over to rest or change drivers. Simply turning up the radio or opening the window are not effective ways to keep you alert. 

The Montana Highway Patrol reported in 2016 that 393 people were in crashes attributed to the driver falling asleep and 11 of those were fatalities. Please share this information with your teen drivers and their families.

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New edition of Montana Traffic Education Association News - Fall 2017

Visit MTEAOnline.org to read the latest issue of MTEA News with a recap of the 2017 conference, great articles, news from the OPI Traffic Education office, and Lesson Slam ideas and resources. Plan ahead to attend the annual conference in Bozeman, April 22-24, 2018.


We are here to help! Contact the Traffic Education Office at 406.444.4432 or email Fran Penner-Ray, Traffic Education Director, or Patti Borneman, Traffic Education Program Specialist. Visit the new and improved Driver Education web pages at the OPI website: http://opi.mt.gov/DriverEd.  Curriculum updates are ongoing. Check out what's new!