Study shows earlier school start time leads to increase in teen driving accidents

Here are the results of an interesting study as reported in the Chicago Tribune:

research funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and reported in 2014 showed that for half of communities that instituted a later start time for their high schools, the rate of car crashes for high-school-age drivers dropped by 65 to 70 percent.

“By decreasing the likelihood that teens will be sleep-deprived when getting behind the wheel in the morning, we can help decrease the chance they will be involved in an accident,” Morgenthaler, who was not part of the new study, told Reuters Health in a statement.

Sleep and circadian rhythms change during adolescence, and school start times that aren’t aligned with their sleep needs puts teens at risk for chronic sleep restriction, he said.

“In puberty, a natural shift occurs in the timing of the body’s internal ‘circadian’ clock, causing most teens to have a biological preference for a late-night bedtime,” Morgenthaler said. “Current school start times are asking teens to shine when their biological clock tells them to sleep.”

Scheduling school start times should be a collaboration between parents and local school boards, he said.

“My suggestion would be that high schools should optimally start in the area of 8:30 to 8:45 such as the two later starting jurisdictions in our two studies,” Vorona told Reuters Health by email. “I would expect that they would need to end the school day later.”…

SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, November 14, 2014

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