*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on ScienceDaily.
A new study shows a significant decrease in teen driving accidents when school start is delayed. Researchers studied the impact of a 50-minute delay in high school start times in one of the largest school districts in the U.S.
The study compared data from two different academic years: 2014-15, which served as a baseline, and 2015-16, after the delayed start was implemented. Students, who were between the ages of 16-18, self-reported school-night sleep duration. The Fairfax (Virginia) County Youth Survey was used to determine the average sleep duration and driving under the influence of alcohol. The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles provided de-identified data on driving accidents in both academic years.
There was a 5.25% decrease in the crash rate among teen drivers between the two academic years. This significant reduction was also seen in distraction-related accidents (8.7%) and alcohol-related accidents (20%). During this same time period, there was an increase in teen accident rates by 3.5% in the rest of the state of Virginia.
“Interventions in reducing sleep loss in young drivers such as delaying school start times may significantly reduce needless injuries and deaths due to drowsy driving,” says Dr. Saadoun Bin-Hasan, lead researcher.