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Study: Later school start times could reduce auto accidents

Driving while tired and inexperienced individuals behind the wheel are both often cited as causes of collisions. This inspired some U.S. researchers to ask the question: Do early class start times increase the risk of auto accidents involving teens? The results of the study may have an important takeaway for teen drivers and their parents in Arizona and across the country.

In the study, researchers compared the incidence of auto accidents involving adolescents in an American school district for two years before and two years after implementing a later school start time. It then compared the data of accidents from the district with later start times to other schools in the state that continued to start early in the day. They found a slight decrease in accidents with the later start time involving teens between 16 and 18 years old, from 31.63 accidents per 1,000 drivers down to 29.59.

Researchers attribute the change to a number of factors related to fatigue and attention. They say tired drivers are more likely to make mistakes. They also shared that those who have less sleep are more apt to take risks, such as not wearing a seat belt or distracted driving.

Researchers say although the difference between early and later start times may seem small, any effort to reduce auto accidents among adolescents is important to consider. In the United States, injuries from collisions are the number one cause of death for youth. Others may be seriously injured and need ongoing care and support. An Arizona lawyer can help individuals involved in such accidents understand their legal options.

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