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Early school start times may factor into teens’ negligent driving

The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine published a study suggesting a link between school start times and the rate of car crashes involving teen drivers. Parents of teen drivers in New York should know that the later school starts, the less risk there likely is of teens losing sleep and becoming drowsy behind the wheel.

The study looked at the change in teen car crash rates over a two-year period in Fairfax County, Virginia. The county had changed school start times from 7:20 a.m. to 8:10 a.m. in the fall of 2015, and researchers compared crash rates in the year before that change with rates in the year after. There was a decline from 31.63 to 29.59 crashes involving 16- to 18-year-old licensed drivers per 1,000 drivers.

The rest of the state saw no significant change in teen car crash rates during that period. Incidentally, the rest of the state had not changed its school start times.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that schools delay their start times, citing not only improved road safety but also better academic performance and mental health as reasons. Teens who get sufficient sleep are less likely to drive distracted, forget their seat belt or take risks while on the road.

Distracted and drowsy driving are some examples of negligence and can form the basis for personal injury claims in the wake of motor vehicle crashes. Those who were harmed in a crash may want to have a lawyer give them advice and guidance before and during the filing process. Personal injury lawyers might have a network of crash investigators, medical professionals and other third parties who can help strengthen a case. Lawyers may also assist with the negotiating of a settlement.

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