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School Start Times and Teen Car Accident Prevention

Do school start times impact a teen driver’s risk of being involved in a car accident? Or to put it another way, if high schools started later and teens got more sleep, would we see an overall reduction in the rate of teen car crashes? Like adult drivers, teens can be involved in drowsy driving collisions. While many of us think about drowsy driving when we consider the risks of long-haul trucking or a lengthy road trip late into the night, yet drowsy driving causes more collisions than you might think when people are driving to work or school in the morning without getting a sufficient number of hours of sleep the night before. Indeed, according to a new study in Science Daily, later school start times are “associated with a significant drop in vehicle accidents involving teen drivers.”

What should parents know about this study and its implications for preventing teen car collisions in Florida?

Teen Motor Vehicle Crash Rates Drop When School Starts Later 

The new study was published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, and it indicates that teens may be less likely to get involved in a motor vehicle crash if they have a school start time that is a bit later in the morning. According to the study, “the crash rate in 16-to-18-year-old licensed drivers decreased significantly from 31.63 to 29.59 accidents per 1,000 drivers after [a] delayed start time. In areas where schools did not push back the start time, however, the accident rate remained constant.

Why are teenagers who start high school later more likely to avoid a car accident? In short, they get more sleep. Getting more sleep has a wide variety of benefits that can result in a reduced likelihood of a collision. According to Dr. Judith Owens, a Harvard Medical School professor and the director of sleep medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital, “teenagers who get more sleep are less likely to make poor decisions such as not wearing a seat belt or engaging in distracted driving.” Those teenagers are also less likely to cause a crash due to drowsy driving or to be more alter so as to avoid a drowsy driving collision.

How Delayed School Start Times Can Reduce Rates of Motor Vehicle Collisions Involving Teen Drivers

Many high schools start very early—at or just after 7 a.m.—which means that high school students need to wake up early to make it to school on time. For high school students who attend magnet schools quite some distance from their homes, a wake-up time may be as early as 5 a.m. Even if a high school student can fall asleep by 11 p.m., that teen likely will not get more than 6 hours of sleep.

According to SleepFoundation.org, for most teenagers, “it is natural not to be able to fall asleep before 11 p.m.” Moreover, teens may need more hours of sleep each night than adults. Indeed, “teens need about 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night to function best,” yet only about 15 percent of teenagers report getting 8 or more hours of sleep per night. When school start times are later, teen students can get more sleep before waking up and driving to school. Accordingly, accident rates decline.

Contact a Boca Raton Auto Accident Lawyer 

Whether you were involved in a collision with a teen driver or your high school student was injured in a car crash caused by another motorist, an experienced Boca Raton car accident lawyer can help. Contact Lesser Lesser Landy & Smith PLLC to learn more about filing a car accident claim.




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