From Smart Kids with LD
November 24, 2014
In recent years a growing body of research points to the adverse affects of early school start times on children and teens. Simply put, a significant segment of school age kids is sleep deprived, and the results are impacting their health.
Insufficient sleep among young people has been associated with increases in smoking, alcohol use, fighting, sexual promiscuity, and physical inactivity among other risky behaviors.
Now a new study has found yet another reason to start school later. According to research published in The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, teen drivers who sleep later have fewer traffic accidents.
The results were based on a review of accident rates among teens in two counties in Virginia. Chesterfield and Henrico have similar population characteristics, but in Henrico the high school day begins at 8:45, while Chesterfield’s begins at 7:20. According to a blog post in The New York Times that difference is associated with a significant discrepancy:
The rate of accidents among 16- to 18-year-old drivers in Chesterfield County in 2009-2010 was 48.8 per thousand, compared with 37.9 in Henrico County. In 2010-2011, the same trend was evident: 51.9 per thousand in Chesterfield and 44.2 in Henrico. The crash rate among adults over the same period fluctuated between 13 and 14 per thousand, with no difference between the two counties.
Other studies have shown that young drivers with ADHD are more likely to be involved in automobile accidents than their peers without attention issues. Add to that the increased accident risks associated with lack of sleep and you have a compelling reason to jump on the growing bandwagon of those who want to see later school start times.