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Later school start times could reduce teen car crashes

High school students in Washington and across the nation are busier than ever. Each day, they may jam in classes, after-school activities, sports, study sessions and more. Unfortunately, they are often doing this with insufficient sleep, which can cause attention, health and safety problems. To help teens get more rest, some organizations are pushing for schools to implement later start times.

For example, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine says that teens between the ages of 13 and 18 need up to 10 hours of sleep per night for optimum health. As a result, the organization believes that classes for middle and high school students should begin at 8:30 a.m. or later. The organization says later school start times could help teens to be more alert in classes, decrease absences and tardiness, improve mental health and even reduce car accidents.

The traffic safety claim was recently backed up by a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine that examined crash data among teen drivers in Fairfax, Virginia. For the 2014-2015 school year, students started school at 7:20 a.m. For the 2015-2016 school year, classes were pushed back to 8:10 a.m. The study found that the accident rate for drivers between the ages of 16 and 18 was 31.63 crashes per 1,000 drivers during the first year. During the second year, the accident rate dipped to 29.59 crashes per 1,000 drivers, which is a statistically significant change. In comparison, the accident rate for teen drivers throughout the rest of Virginia remained unchanged.

A personal injury attorney may be able to help victims of car accidents obtain compensation for their losses. By filing a lawsuit against the responsible driver, it might be possible for victims to receive a settlement that covers their medical bills, rehabilitation costs, lost wages and other crash-related damages.

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