Houston police are still investigating Sunday's early-morning crash caused by a Bellaire teen coming home from the school's official after-prom party, and the school itself is still in shock at the death of a popular, hard-working basketball star.
(The family of the 50-year-old nurse also killed in the wreck is also grieving, of course.)
The Bellaire party, at Dave & Buster's, was designed to help students have an alcohol- and drug-free party choice after the prom.
But with kids driving away from it at 6 in the morning, was enough attention being paid to sleep deprivation?
From the National Academy of Sciences:
The effects of sleepiness on driving are striking. After 17 hours awake (for example, a teen who woke up at 6:30 a.m. and is still socializing at 11:30 p.m.), a teen's performance is impaired to the same extent that it would be with a blood alcohol content of 0.05 percent.
Driving home from the prom at 6:30 in the morning (after 24 hours awake), a teen's driving would be impaired as much as it would be with a blood alcohol content of 0.10 percent. Apart from late-night driving and unusual circumstances that cause extensive sleep deprivation, teens are at their sleepiest in the morning, and the rate of fall-asleep crashes for 16- to 25-year-olds confirms this, peaking between 6 and 8 in the morning (Pack et al., 1995).
We asked HISD spokesman Norm Uhl if the district had any policies regarding sleep deprivation -- in other words, are chaperones briefed on it, is there a system for giving kids rides home or having them picked up.
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The cause of the accident is not known. There is only speculation on the cause at this point. Remember, that the after-prom events were created to provide a safe, alcohol-free, supervised event. Obviously, teens are going to continue to celebrate after the prom, so this provides a safe alternative to students being left to their own devices. The Bellaire event is parent sponsored and parent chaperoned.
So there's that, for what it's worth.
Here's a chart of crashes involving sleep deprivation, by age:
Just one more thing for parents to worry about on prom night -- you kids can be sober, drug-free and still have elements working against them.