A new study suggests that early class times for high school kids may result in more car accidents. The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, compared weekday crash rates of 16- to 18-year-olds in two Virginia school districts. Crash rates were 41 percent higher in a district where classes began at 7:20 a.m., more than an hour earlier than the second district where classes began at 8:40 a.m.
Researchers say that later start times would allow teens to get an adequate amount of sleep thereby increasing alertness during their morning commutes.
“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,” study author Robert Vorona, MD, 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.”
Vorona was careful to explain that the study does not prove cause and effect between starting times and accidents and that further studies are planned.
You can read more about the study at ScienceDaily.