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Study finds teens too tired to drive, falling asleep at the wheel

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- As if parents didn’t have to be concerned about having a teenager behind the wheel, a new study shows they can add drowsy driving to the list.

New research from Liberty Mutual Insurance and SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) shows a third of teens are driving drowsy.

It also showed that nearly one in 10 has fallen asleep at the wheel.

Dr. Michael Fitch is an emergency physician at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and says that driving while drowsy is similar to other impairments.

“There have been some recent studies that have demonstrated that drowsy driving can be very dangerous and in fact in some ways it can be very similar to driving while intoxicated with alcohol,” Fitch said.

Jennifer Kresge has a 17-year-old son who has a year of driving experience.

She was concerned when she heard the findings on teens driving tired.

“It is scary for me just [because of] the inexperience. They just don't understand how to be careful especially if they are going to school having to work jobs after school, how tired you can be after a shift,” Kresge said.

Randy Wiles is a certified driving instructor and owner of Wiles Driving School.

He says there is a lot of talk about drunk driving, but he teaches his students how to recognize when they’re not alert enough to drive.

He says he also instructs them to let someone know if they are too tired to get behind the wheel.

“If they can't drive, let someone else drive, or designate somebody to come and pick them up,” he said.

The study also showed that 56 percent of teens with a license admitted they drove when they were too tired to drive their best.