Later Start Times Could Help Sleepy Teens (And Prevent Traffic Collisions)

Teens have the highest rate of accidents of any age group. They are inexperienced and more susceptible to distracted driving. New studies also indicate that teens also suffer from a chronic lack of sleep, which could be impacting their reaction times and ability to drive. With this knowledge, safety advocates are proposing that schools start later to give teens the sleep time they need to keep alert and awake behind the wheel.

This September, regardless of start time, teens and parents should remain aware of the dangers of fatigued driving. Teen drivers, especially, should make sure they have had enough rest before getting behind the wheel. Our Greensboro car accident attorneys are experienced with accidents involving teen drivers, distracted driving, and fatigued driving. We are committed to reducing the number of accidents in our communities and keeping motorists safe.


Some schools require students to wake up at 5:30 a.m. just to catch a bus and arrive to class on time. Classes start at 7:30 and for many students, this means even 45 minutes earlier than required for middle school or junior high. One of the reasons students in high school start earlier is to make time for after school activities including music, athletics, theater and other clubs that require meetings and practice after class. This means that students could be in school or in an after- school activity between 10 and 15 hours a day.

For many students, this schedule does not leave ample time for homework, family and sleep, especially since studies have shown that teens are in greatest need of sleep. Decades of research have proven that it is difficult for teens to wake up early. While some districts have worked to accommodate sleep needs, other districts say that it is too complicated to shift schedules.

New reports indicate that 40 percent of public schools open before 8 a.m. and only 15 percent start at 8:30 or later. Many public districts require the use of the same buses so that elementary students, middle-school students and high-school students have to arrive in shifts. High school students will often get the earliest start times.

In order to arrive at school at 7:00 or 7:15, students are required to wake up even earlier. The lack of sleep could impact a teen’s driving ability and ultimately create hazards on the road. In addition to fatigue, teens also may be more likely to use iPods, talk on a cell phone, or participate in dangerous driving activity that could result in an accident. If you or someone you love was involved in an early morning accident, it is possible that the driver was fatigued. An experienced attorney can investigate your case and determine the cause of the accident. A 2007-2008 study found that there were significantly higher crash rates in districts where students started classes 75 to 80 minutes earlier.

Knowing that lack of sleep and fatigue can be detrimental to learning and dangerous for motorists, some officials have considered delaying start times. Researchers have found that where late-start has been implemented, teens and parents have adjusted to the new schedules. The adjustment improved attendance, decreased tardiness and left students more alert. This could also improve driving abilities and prevent future accidents.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, contact Lee Law Offices today for a free consultation to protect your rights. Call 800-887-1965.

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, North Carolina Car Accident Blog, June 26, 2013

Bicyclist Struck and Killed in Carolina Forest Accident, North Carolina Car Accident Lawyers Blog, June 18, 2013

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