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Could Early School Days Lead to Increased Teen Accidents?

As San Diego personal injury lawyers, we are concerned by a new study that suggests that teen drivers who start school earlier in the morning are more prone to traffic accidents. The findings support previous research about the risks ofdrowsy driving.

As we have previously discussed on this San Diego Injury Blog, drowsy driving is linked to 328,000 crashes each year. Drivers between the ages of 16 and 24 years are at greatest risk.

In the latest study, researchers examined data provided by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles to compare the teen accident rates in two counties. They found that the car accident rate for teen drivers during the 2009 to 2010 school year was approximately 29 percent higher in Chesterfield County, where classes start at 7:20 a.m., than in adjacent Henrico County, where classes started nearly an hour and a half later at 8:45 a.m.

As reported by Medical Express, the findings were similar for the 2010 to 2011 school year, when the weekday crash rate for 16-17 year old teens in Chesterfield County was about 27 percent higher than for those in Henrico County. By comparison, the data revealed no difference in adult crash rates in the two counties for either year.

“There are more and more data suggesting that insufficient sleep is common in our teens and that early high school start times are a contributor to teens’ reduced sleep,” said principal investigator and lead author Dr. Robert Vorona, associate professor in the Division of Sleep Medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Virginia. “Insufficient sleep appears to have deleterious consequences such as decrements in mood and increased risk taking, impaired academics and increased crash rates."