Are Your Teens More Dangerous On The Roads In The Early Morning? A discussion.

June 16th, 2010 by

As a father I worry about my daughters when they are out driving. My oldest daughter even drives my fifteen year old to school with her. I do worry about them but I also worry about everyone else out there. I trust that they have had the proper training and education to be good drivers but what if there are other factors involved?

I came across an article about teens staying up to late, so when they wake up and get ready to drive to school they are not very alert yet. My daughters have a curfew and must be home by a certain time but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are going right to sleep. Studies show that kids and teens need at least 8.5-9 hours of sleep a night to be refreshed. If I could sleep that long I would be a very happy man!  

I want you all to read this article from Consumer Reports and let me know what you think. Do you think that your teens get enough sleep at night? If they don’t, do you think this affects their driving abilities? Do you think an early school start can affect their learning as well? This is a subject that means a lot to me and I would like to hear your thoughts. 

Teens are challenged to get enough sleep. Their biological clock means about 11 p.m. is their natural sleep time. Sleep experts recommend teens get 8.5-9 hours of sleep, yet many have to get up early for school. Sleep deprivation in teens not only affects school performance and behavior, but a new study shows that the earlier morning school start times are associated with an increase in teen car crashes.

The study, conducted by professors at the Eastern Virginia Medical School, looked at data from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles for two towns—Virginia Beach and Chesapeake. In 2008, the crash rate was 41 percent higher in Virginia Beach where classes started at 7:20 a.m., than in Chesapeake where classes start at 8:40 a.m. That equates to 65.4 crashes for every 1,000 teen drivers in Virginia Beach. In Chesapeake, there were 46.2 crashes for every 1,000 teen drivers.

In Virginia Beach there were 12,916 drivers between 16 and 18 years of age in 2008, and they were involved in 850 crashes. In Chesapeake, of the 8,459 teen drivers, there were 394 automobile accidents. The neighboring cities both have similar demographics, though it isn’t clear what traffic factors may be involved.

The researchers note that delaying the start of school can help teen drivers be more alert on the road and reduce the severity of the sleep deprivation. This study is supported by a previous one that appeared in the December 2008 Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, which found that teen crashes dropped 16.5 percent in one county where the school start time was delayed an hour.

This also raises a bigger question, if teens are too tired to drive this early in the morning, what makes us think they are receptive to learning. Many studies have been conducted that suggest that starting high school later in the day will improve test scores and learning in teens. A common reason to start school so early is to allow the sporting events to take place in the afternoon, but are we causing increased fatalities and less competitive workforce?

Car crashes are the number one killer of teens in the country. Graduated licensing programs have helped to reduce the deaths by putting age, passengers, and driving time restrictions on teens, but it could also be useful for schools to take a look at what they can do to help curb the problem and delaying school times may be one option to further investigate.

Liza Barth

So….What do you think about this? 

Posted in Manufacturer Blogs