Many people in Pennsylvania worry about the safety of teen drivers on the road. However, many of these concerns may focus on reckless behavior like texting while driving or other electronic distractions. However, even seemingly responsible behaviors can still contribute to negligent driving, especially when inexperienced drivers like teens are behind the wheel. One significant cause of car accidents is drowsy driving, often caused by too little sleep before an early school day. One group of researchers says that teen drivers’ car accident rate noticeably declines when school begins later in the day.

Scientists examined one county where the school start time changed to a later hour, looking at motor vehicle accident records for the year before the change and the year after. They found that for drivers aged 16 to 18, their accident rate went from 31.63 to 29.59 car crashes per 1,000 drivers in the year following the change to a later start time for the school day. Elsewhere in the state, where school times did not change, the teen driver accident rate remained steady.

Drowsy driving is known to have serious effects on people’s ability to navigate emergency situations and make responsible decisions behind the wheel. Some people have compared the effects of driving under sleep deprivation with the effects of driving under the influence of alcohol. The study provides more support for efforts to delay the start time at public schools; sleep medicine physicians already say that later school starting times promote learning, student achievement and increased attendance.

When people of any age get behind the wheel while drowsy, they can cause serious motor vehicle collisions with the resulting severe injuries and lifelong disabilities. People who have been injured in a crash due to someone else’s negligent or drowsy driving may work with a personal injury lawyer to pursue compensation.