Can Later School Times Reduce Teen Car Accidents?
When it comes to teens behind the wheel, there are many factors that contribute to them getting into accidents. Driving with friends in the car, focusing on the radio, and cell phone use all immediately come to mind. But there’s another factor that might be less thought about—fatigue. When any driver is tired behind the wheel, they could be putting themselves and others on the road at risk.
Teens, one of the populations who needs the most sleep because they are still growing and developing, can also fall victim to fatigue that affects their driving abilities. This can lead to them getting into collisions with fixed objects or other drivers. Let’s take a deeper look into how later school start times could reduce teen car accidents and the dangers of fatigued driving.
The Benefits of Later School Start Times
Teenage years are key in growth and development, which is why teens need plenty of rest. Their bodies need time to grow and repair themselves during their sleep. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), teens aged 13 to 18 should get eight to ten hours of sleep each night to be able to function properly throughout the day.
This time frame is influenced by teen’s sleep patterns, which are reported by the AASM to naturally follow a later sleep and wakeup time from their internal circadian rhythms and biological sleep drives. With that in mind, current school schedules are counter-intuitive to teen’s natural sleep patterns. A later start time could help teens get more rest, wake up more refreshed, and function better throughout the day. Some of those improvements could be:
- Increased amount of sleep on school nights.
- Better performance in the classroom.
- Reduced tardiness and absences.
- Better mental health and psychological well-being.
Better functioning would extend past schoolwork and could even improve teen driving, which could reduce teen-related car accidents. A study done by AASM showed that a delayed school start time decreased the amount of adolescent motor vehicle crash risk. This could be directly correlated to reduced drowsy driving as well as less rushing to get to school on time from oversleeping.
Drowsy driving is a leading factor that causes car accidents, so if teens are less drowsy behind the wheel, everyone wins. Let’s take a look at the dangers of drowsy driving.
The Dangers of Driving While Tired
Driving while fatigued, or drowsy driving, can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drowsy driving contributes to nearly 1,000 fatalities from car accidents a year. Many drivers don’t realize how deadly driving while fatigued can be, even though it:
- Slows reaction times
- Influences decision making
- Causes inattention
- Could lead to falling asleep behind the wheel
The leading factor for drowsy drivers is drivers not getting enough sleep. As stated above, teens are at risk for not getting enough sleep because they require more sleep than adults and their school schedules likely go against their biological sleeping patterns. Moving back school start times could reduce the risk of teen car accidents just because they get enough sleep and aren’t drowsy behind the wheel in the morning or afternoon.
McMath Woods P.A. Will Represent You
After a car accident, you might be wondering who to turn to. At McMath Woods P.A., we understand that this is a vulnerable time for you while you’re dealing with the injuries and other damages you suffered from in your car wreck. That’s why we’re here to offer you the legal support you need so you can focus on getting your life back to normal.
We’ll work to get you the financial compensation you deserve so you can work on recovering physically and emotionally from your collision. When we fully investigate your claim, we’ll make sure that the at-fault party is held accountable for their actions. Contact us today so we can get started.