The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine published a study that has some interesting points to make about school start times and the safety of teen drivers. Parents in California know that teens tend to sleep long and late into the day due to a shift in biological rhythm; if this sleep is interrupted, then teens are more likely to become drowsy and unsafe behind the wheel.
The study focused on one area, Fairfax County in Virginia, that pushed back its school start times from 7:20 a.m. to 8:10 a.m. in the fall of 2015. Researchers analyzed the year before the change and the year after, comparing the rate of crashes involving licensed teen drivers aged 16 to 18. It turns out that the rate did decline from 31.63 to 29.59 crashes per 1,000 drivers.
Nothing like this happened in the other counties where there were no alterations to school start times. Researchers stated that teens after the change were less likely to drive distracted, forget their seat belt or take risks on the road.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine also supports the idea of delaying the time that middle and high schools start. By helping teens get the 8 to 10 hours of sleep they need, schools can reduce tardiness, absences and even the number of sports-related injuries. Teens’ mental health and classroom performance may improve as well.
Drowsy and distracted driving are just two forms of negligence, and when these factors are behind motor vehicle accidents, those who are injured and whose degree of fault does not exceed the other driver’s may be eligible for damages. These damages might cover medical expenses, lost wages and non-monetary losses like mental anguish. In their effort to ensure a reasonable settlement, victims may want to hire a lawyer. If a settlement cannot be achieved out of court, victims may litigate.