Car Wrecks Caused by Teens Could Have Surprising Trigger


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It's widely known that there's a link between teens who use phones behind the wheel and car wrecks, but a new study has linked a high accident rate to something more. According to research published by The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), an underlying culprit is school start times. Research The research methods used were fairly straightforward. Investigators collected two sets of data from different high school districts between 2009-2010. One county's high school began at 7:20 a.m and the other at 8:45 a.m.. Of the teens age 16-18 at the schools with an early start-time, there were 48.8 accidents per 1,000 students. The schools, which began later, had only 37.9 for every 1,000 students. To verify it wasn't a fluke, they also pulled data from the following year. Again, the schools with the earlier start times had considerably more accidents. The rates were 51.9 and 44.2 per every thousand students, respectively. Why School Start Times Matter The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) says that teens need about 9.25 hours of sleep each night. They further report that a mere 15 percent of students actually sleep enough. This may be in part because biological rhythms naturally shift during the teen years, which can make it impossible for them to fall sleep until as late as 11 p.m. For this reason, students cannot be well-rested unless school begins closer to 9 a.m. Considering that West Ashley High starts at 7:15 a.m, a vast number of Charleston's car wrecks involving teens could be a result of sleep deprivation. Slippery Slope In addition to the potential for auto accidents, the NSF notes that a myriad of other issues may be caused by lack of quality rest. Some of them include:

  • Difficulty listening/ focusing
  • Trouble solving problems
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Irritability
  • Inability to use equipment properly
  • Drowsy driving

Solving the Problem Each of the things on the prior list spell out big trouble for teen drivers. Sleep deprivation not only leads to drowsy driving, but also to aggressive behavior. Between exhaustion, propensity for road rage, and the general unsafe vehicle operation, more accidents occur. Ideally, schools should start later based on the data at hand. However, teens can help cope with existing structure by:

  • Maintaining a standard sleep schedule, even on the weekends
  • Avoiding caffeine and other stimulants, especially in the afternoon and evening
  • Shutting off TVs, computers and other electronics a few hours before bed
  • Not eating, drinking or exercising for a couple of hours before bed

Charleston Car Wreck Attorney

If you have been injured in an auto accident involving a drowsy driver, you may be entitled to compensation. Courts regularly award victims reparations for medical bills, vehicle repairs, time away from work, as well as for pain and suffering. Although it's incredibly unfortunate when a drowsy teen is at fault, bringing these cases to the attention of school boards may be the only way to get them to reconsider their early start-times. Please use our online form or call one of our lawyers at 1(800)610-2546 to discuss your case.

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