Teenagers require 8 to 10 hours of sleep a day, and they usually need to sleep late into the day as well. What time school starts in the morning, then, can influence how much sleep teens get. This, in turn, can affect things like academic performance, mental health and, as one study suggests, safety behind the wheel. California residents should know that later school start times may lead to fewer car crashes involving teen drivers.

The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine published a study that focused on the change that Fairfax County, Virginia, made to its school start times back in the fall of 2015. Specifically, it pushed back the start times from 7:20am to 8:10am. Researchers calculated, for the year before the change and the year after it, the rate of car crashes involving licensed drivers between the age of 16 and 18. They saw the rate decline from 31.63 to 29.59 crashes per 1,000 drivers.

Incidentally, the rest of Virginia, which did not alter school start times, saw the same steady rate of teen car crashes. Researchers noted that teens who get more sleep are less likely to drive distracted or engage in other risky behavior. The AASM has echoed these thoughts and actually recommends that middle and high schools start at 8:30am or later.

Preventing distracted driving is so important in this period of increasing smartphone and in-vehicle technology use. It is a form of negligence, and when it is behind motor vehicle accidents, those who were injured and who contributed little or nothing to their injuries can be eligible for compensation. To learn more about how their case holds up under personal injury law, victims usually see a lawyer. A lawyer may be especially helpful when it comes to negotiating a settlement.

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