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Crash rates may be higher for teen drivers who start school earlier in the morning
Date:4/14/2011

. This delay can make it a challenge for teens to get enough sleep when they have to wake up early for school.

Vorona says that starting high school later in the morning may promote driver alertness by allowing teens to get more sleep at night.

"We believe that high schools should take a close look at having later start times to align with circadian rhythms in teens and to allow for longer sleep times," he said. "Too many teens in this country obtain insufficient sleep. Increasingly, the literature suggests that this may lead to problematic consequences including mood disorders, academic difficulties and behavioral issues."

Another study in the April issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine suggests that delaying school start times by one hour could enhance students' cognitive performance by improving their attention level and increasing their rate of performance, as well as reducing their mistakes and impulsivity. The Israeli study of 14-year-old, eighth-grade students found that the teens slept about 55 minutes longer each night and performed better on tests that require attention when their school start time was delayed by one hour.

Vorona's study involved data provided by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. In Virginia Beach, there were 12,916 registered drivers between 16 and 18 years of age in 2008, and these teen drivers were involved in 850 crashes. In Chesapeake there were 8,459 teen drivers and 394 automobile accidents. The researchers report that the two adjoining cities have similar demographics, including racial composition and per-capita income.

Further analysis by time of day found that, in the morning, the teen crash rates peaked when students would be commuting to school, from 7 a.m. to 7:59 a.m. for Virginia Beach and 8 a.m. to 8:59 a.m. for Chesapeake. Teen crash rates were highest in the afternoon hours, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. in Virginia Beach, where schools dismissed at ab
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Contact: Emilee McStay
emcstay@aasmnet.org
630-737-9700
American Academy of Sleep Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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