School Start Time Conference - Session 03:

Deficient Sleep in Teens - The Impact on Safety - 

Brian C. Tefft


The high level of expertise - academic, government, and educators - was impressive.
— School Board Member

Brian C. Tefft, Senior Researcher, Traffic Research Group, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

Brian Tefft presents the results of research conducted by the American Automobile Association and other safety organizations related to sleep and teen drivers. Automobile crashes are the leading cause of death for teens aged 16 to 20 years old.  In fact, for every mile driven teen driver crash rates range between 3 to 6 times the crash rates of drivers 30 years old.

Mr. Tefft reports research estimating that about 40% of teens routinely get less than 6 hours a sleep at night and that approximately 25% of teen drivers self-report having driven while drowsy during the previous 30 days.  These sleep deficits clearly impair driver safety.  The AAA Foundation estimates that driving on even 1 hour less sleep than the recommended amount results in a significant increase in crash risk and driving on 2-3 hours less sleep than recommended results in a crash risk that is equivalent to that of driving while intoxicated. 

Mr. Tefft provides a AAA Foundation estimate that drowsy driving accounts for 8% of all teen crashes and 13% of all teen crashes resulting in a fatality.

Brian C. Tefft
Brian Tefft, Senior Researcher with the Traffic Research Group at the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, conducts research on a wide variety of traffic safety issues, employing state-of-the-art methods to identify real-world traffic safety problems, identify solutions, and evaluate their effectiveness. His research on drowsy driving has highlighted the fact that official statistics substantially underestimate the scope of the problem. Mr. Tefft has also produced the first study linking quantitative measures of acute sleep deprivation to real on-road crash risk. He holds a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Brown University.