Sleep Deprivation as a Factor in Teen Auto Accidents

A new study is raising questions about whether delayed school timings could decrease the number of auto accidents in which teenagers are involved. The thought is that helping  teenagers get enough sleep at night would allow them to drive more safely the next day thereby decreasing the likelihood of auto accidents.

The study conducted by researchers in Virginia, compared two towns, Chesapeake and Virginia Beach. In Virginia Beach, classes started at around 7:20 AM, and the number of auto accidents involving teen motorists there was 41% higher than the number of auto accidents in Chesapeake, where the classes started at around 8:40 AM.

This wasn’t the first study that indicated that lack of sleep may be another contributing factor increasing a teen motorist’s risk of an accident. Last year, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, found that there was a reduction in teen auto accident rates by approximately 16.5% when school times were delayed by an hour.

The Virginia researchers are calling for school authorities to consider delaying school timings for high school students by at least an hour, so that they can get the sleep they need. Sleep deprivation is a very real problem in teenagers. There's just too much going on in their lives to think about going to sleep. From texting and gaming to Facebook, there’s too much to do in a single day, and the result is sleep deprivation.

A teenager needs between 8.5 and nine hours of sleep a night, but many teenagers are likely not getting that many hours of sleep. Drowsy driving substantially increases a person's risk of an auto accident. Until school authorities decide on delaying school timings, parents can take other measures to help teenagers get more sleep. Set strict rules for bedtimes, and limit your teenager’s use of computers, the Internet, and videogames at home.

The Atlanta auto accident lawyers at the Katz Law Firm represent injured victims of auto accidents in and around the metro Atlanta region, and across Georgia.

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