New Research Shows Accident Rates Lower for Teens Who Get More Sleep — Missouri/Illinois Auto Accident Law Firm

By December 22, 2008Traffic Safety

A new study by the University of Kentucky suggests that later starting times at high schools could significantly cut rates of serious accidents among teenagers. According to the Washington Post, researchers found a 16.5% drop in accident rates for teens whose schools moved their start times forward an hour. One of the researchers attributed the change to biology: Teenagers are actually biologically “programmed” to stay up later, he said, so early school starting times deprive them of sleep.
The study, which appears in the Dec. 15 Journal of Sleep Medicine, started with a survey of 10,000 teenagers in the sixth through twelfth grades. The survey asked them about their sleep schedules and how sleep affected their daily lives, including auto accidents. It was repeated in the following year, when the local schools had moved their starting time from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. Comparing the two, researchers found the drop in car accidents, as well as a 14.3% jump in the number of teens who got at least 8 hours of sleep per night.
That’s important, the researchers said, because sleep loss builds up over time. Losing as little as one hour of sleep per night can leave patients feeling at the end of the week as if they’d stayed up for all of the last 24 hours. This can have a profound effect on driving ability for both teens and adults. According to the National Sleep Foundation, fatigue or sleepiness is responsible for about 100,000 car crashes every year, about half of them under the age of 26. Another study, by the federal Department of Transportation and the Virginia Tech Traffic Institute, found that sleepiness was the top distraction for drivers (above even cell phones), quadrupling a driver’s chances of an accident.
Distracted driving is responsible for more accidents than drunk driving, because it’s far more common. Talking on the phone, “rubbernecking” and driving while extremely sleepy are all driver distractions that can cause serious accidents. Someone who fails to pay attention to the road, for those or other reasons, is legally responsible for the results of any serious car wreck that results. If you or someone you love was hurt in this kind of auto accident in Missouri, you have the right to claim compensation for your financial, physical and emotional injuries. Carey, Danis & Lowe can help. To set up a free case evaluation with our experienced attorneys, please contact us online or call us at 1-877-678-3400.