If you drive in Maryland in the mornings, later school start times may provide some safety benefits for everyone on the road. According to one study, when school times are pushed back, car accidents involving teen drivers go down. Researchers analyzed one county where school times were changed from 7:20 a.m. to 8:10 a.m., measuring accident records for two years before and after the change. They found that teen drivers between 16 and 18 were less likely to be involved in a crash when school started later, and the rate of teen accidents dropped from 31.63 per 1,000 drivers to 29.59.

Benefits of a later school starting time

The researchers noted that no similar decline in motor vehicle accidents involving teens was noted elsewhere in the state, tying the change more closely to the later starting time. Sleep medicine physicians have supported later school start times for some years, noting that they are linked to other benefits such as improved learning outcomes, reduced absenteeism and greater levels of class participation. However, this study also puts driver safety on the table. One researcher noted that motor vehicle collisions are the leading killer of American teens, so simple actions like changing school start times that can also reduce car accidents may be an important safety protection.

Risks of drowsy driving

When people get behind the wheel while tired, they may pose a serious risk to others on the road. Sleep deprivation may be a real risk of many students’ and workers’ schedules, but it can have an effect on emergency response behind the wheel similar to alcohol intoxication. People who are drowsy are far more likely to cause a severe car accident

Drowsy driving is not the only risk; the study also showed that teens were less likely to be involved in distracted driving car accidents when school started later in the day. If you have been injured by a negligent driver of any age, a personal injury attorney may help you pursue compensation for the losses you have incurred.