Experts Call for Later School Start Times to Reduce Teen Traffic Accidents

With Labor Day now behind us, summer is over and the school year is in session for most students across the country. For many, this means waking up early and getting to class on time – even if it’s not the easiest thing to do. In fact, according to researchers, it’s not only hard for most students to get up early to attend school, it’s downright dangerous.

Later school start times have been a popular subject for some time, with many in support of letting teens sleep in. Last month, in the first official policy statement on the issue, experts weighed in and provided some scientific insight. Their opinion? Middle schools and high schools should start school no earlier than 8:30 a.m.

According to experts from the American Academy of Pediatrics, teens have difficulties waking up earlier because biological changes associated with puberty cause shifts in circadian rhythm. The changes, which can begin in middle school, often mean that teens don’t get tired until later at night. Because of these biological changes, experts are suggesting later school start times so teens can get the sleep they need. Currently, only 15% of public high schools in America start at 8:30 a.m. or later.

Doctors have a great deal of evidence to support their suggestions for later start times. In fact, researchers have found the following benefits of letting teens sleep in:

  • Improved physical and mental health
  • Better attendance and student performance
  • Decrease in risky behaviors
  • Lower rates of car accidents involving teen drivers

Preventing Teen Car Crashes

Reductions in rates of teen car crashes are one benefit gaining a great deal of attention. According to a recent CDC study, researchers found a 70% drop in car crashes involving teen drivers at one school after the start time was delayed 80 minutes. Preventing teen car crashes could become a strong reason for schools to delay start times.

According to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ Traffic Safety Coalition, teens face increased risks of being involved in car crashes for the following reasons, often because they lack experience and are prone to distraction. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows 71% percent of teens and young people have sent text messages while driving, and 78% have read a text while behind the wheel. When these teens are tired in the morning, the risks will only increase.

At Shook & Stone, our Las Vegas injury attorneys have worked with numerous car accident victims injured in preventable accidents. Given our experience helping victims and families overcome these tragedies, we support changes that make our roadways safer, for teens and everyone on the road. To learn more about your rights after a traffic accident, contact a Las Vegas car accident lawyer from our firm.


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