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Starting school later could save lives

School start times put many California teens and parents on the road in the early morning hours. One study found that later school start times may be linked to a significant decrease in car accidents, especially as drowsy driving can reduce people’s ability to respond to emergency situations. Researchers examined car accidents in one area for two years, spanning before and after the district changed school start times to begin later in the day. For teen drivers between 16 and 18, their crash rate declined from 31.63 to 29.59 accidents for every 1,000 drivers at the same time that the overall teen car accident rate remained the same throughout the state where school start time was not adjusted.

Car accidents pose major threat to teens

Scientists noted that motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among American teens, and many thousands more are injured each year as a result of collisions. Many experts support later school starting times because they can help teens to learn better and more efficiently. Sleep medicine doctors support later sleep times, saying that teens’ biological drives result in later waking times. These researchers noted that there may be a driver safety benefit as well; they said that when teens receive sufficient sleep, they are more likely to make good decisions while driving, from wearing a seat belt to acting calmly in an emergency situation.

Risks of drowsy driving

Teens aren’t the only people to be affected by sleep deprivation. Even normally careful drivers may become negligent and reckless after losing out on sleep. When drivers are responsible for large vehicles like commercial trucks, the issue may be even more serious. Experts estimate that thousands of car accidents every year are caused by drowsy drivers who cannot maintain control over their cars or even doze off behind the wheel.

Motor vehicle collisions can have a serious impact on others on the road, including catastrophic injuries and permanent disabilities. If you have been injured in a car crash due to someone else’s drowsy, distracted or otherwise negligent driving, a personal injury attorney may be able to help you pursue compensation for your damages.

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