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Teens less likely to drive distracted when school starts later

Studies have suggested that high schools may start too early in the day for teens' health and safety, namely safety on the road. Kentucky residents with teen drivers should know about one study, published by the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, that focused on teen car crash rates in Fairfax County, Virginia, both in the year prior to a change to school start times and in the year after.

Researchers found that licensed drivers aged 16 to 18 were in 31.63 accidents per 1,000 drivers in the year before the change; in the year after, that rate was 29.59. Specifically, the county had set back school start times from 7:20am to 8:10am. In other counties, where there were no changes to school start times, the rate of teen car crashes remained steady. The study notes that teens in the second year were less likely to drive distracted, forget their seatbelt or act in some other unsafe way.

The study confirms what the American Academy of Sleep Medicine has long said. According to the AASM, changes in internal circadian rhythms cause teens to sleep long and later into the day. When schools start later, teens experience not only better sleep but also better classroom performance and mental health. The change can prevent car accidents as well as sports-related injuries.

When there are motor vehicle accidents, though, the one who was distracted behind the wheel will likely take the majority of the blame. Distracted driving is just one of many forms of negligence, and under personal injury law, victims of negligence may be eligible for compensation. To see how strong of a case they have, victims might consult a lawyer. If they hire the lawyer, he or she may speak with the auto insurance companies on their behalf.

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