A study reported by WVEC 13 News in Virginia shows that high school students in the state may be getting into fewer car accidents if they start school later.

Teenage drivers are quickly becoming a top cause of car accidents in the United States.  If you combine that with another dangerous cause of car accidents — drowsy driving — students going to school during some of the best times of their lives are very vulnerable to getting into a car accident causing injuries or wrongful death.

Va. study: Later start time lowered car accident totals for teenage drivers.

According to research done at Eastern Virginia Medical School of Medicine, Division of Sleep Medicine, high school teenagers would likely get into fewer auto accidents if their classes didn’t start so early.  The study compared crash rates in two cities in 2008: Virginia Beach and Chesapeake.  Based on DMV statistics, more auto accidents with teenage drivers happened in Virginia Beach — where classes start at 7:20 a.m. — compared to Chesapeake — where classes start at 8:40 a.m.

A doctor said that the study alone shouldn’t be used to make a firm decision.

“The study supported our hypothesis, but it is important to note that this is an association study and does not prove cause and effect,” he told reporters.  The doctor also suggested later start times to help with the academic difficulties students have along with the threat to teenage drivers.  He said teens with insufficient sleep have more academic problems and mood swings.

Virginia Beach Schools spokeswoman told WVEC that the school district has no intention of changing start time of classes based on the doctor’s findings alone.  She cites the fact he hasn’t shared the specifics of his study with the school division.  The spokesperson oes state student safety is a major concern and would like to be able to review complete research and talk about the doctor’s findings.

There may be evidence to support the theory that a later start time would help teenage drivers avoid car accidents.  Our car accident lawyers hope that school districts all over the United States — not just in Virginia — consider making the change if it means preventing teenage lives.

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