It can be impossible hard to drag your kids out of bed in the morning.
They just had to watch the newest episode of this show, talk to their friends just a little bit longer, and then needed or finish their homework at the last minute. Whatever the reason may be, odds are your teen isn’t getting the recommended amount of sleep that she or he needs. The problem is compounded when your sleep-deprived teen gets behind the wheel first thing in the morning to head to school.
A study published in the April 15th edition of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine showed that teens who start school earlier in the morning are at an increased risk for traffic crashes. Schools with later class times showed significantly lower numbers in teen car crashes — and that wasn’t all. The study also found teens who started classes later had improved attention and reduced impulsiveness during school hours.
The study compared Virginia Beach and Chesapeake class times. High school classes started at 7:20 to 7:25 a.m. in Virginia Beach and at 8:40 to 8:45 a.m. in Chesapeake. In 2008, the weekday traffic crash rate for 16- to 18-year-olds in Virginia Beach was about 41 percent higher than for the same age group in nearby Chesapeake. Investigators found that for every 1,000 teen drivers, there were 65.8 car crashes in Virginia Beach and 46.6 crashes in Chesapeake.
Dr. Robert Vorona, associate professor of internal medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, suspects Virginia Beach students might be suffering from a lack of sleep because they’re staying up late and getting up significantly earlier than their counterparts in Chesapeake. Drowsy driving could be behind the higher crash rate.
“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,” Dr. Robert Vorona said.
Another study, reported in the same issue of the Journal, found that eighth-graders who got 55 minutes of additional sleep were more attentive and made fewer mistakes when school started one hour later.
Most of us revel in the chance to stay in bed just a little bit longer in the morning, but these studies suggest adjusting teens’ schedules slightly could literally be the difference between life and death.
Looking for tips you can use to help your teen driver stay safe on the roads? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has resources that can help.