Early School Start Tied to More Teen Crashes:
FRIDAY, April 15 (HealthDay News) -- Teens who start school
earlier in the morning are at increased risk for traffic crashes, a
new study finds.
But starting the school day a little later seems to improve
teens' attention and reduce impulsiveness, another study finds.
In 2008, the weekday traffic crash rate for 16- to 18-year-olds
in Virginia Beach, Va., was about 41 percent higher than for the
same age group in nearby Chesapeake, Va. 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.
For every 1,000 teen drivers, there were 65.8 car crashes in
Virginia Beach and 46.6 crashes in Chesapeake, the investigators
Similar differences were seen in 2007, the researchers said.
When the researchers focused only on the school months of
September 2007 through June 2008, they found the weekday crash rate
for teen drivers was about 25 percent higher in Virginia Beach than
in Chesapeake -- 80 versus 64 per 1,000 teen drivers.
The research, originally presented last year at a meeting of the
American Academy of Sleep Societies, is published April 15 in the
Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.
"We were concerned that Virginia Beach teens might be sleep restricted due to their early rise times and that this could eventuate in an increased crash rate," lead author Dr. Robert Vorona, associate professor of internal medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Va., said in an American Academy of Sleep Medicine news release.
"The study supported our hypothesis, but it is important to note that this study does not prove cause and effect. We are planning to perform subsequent studies to follow up on these results and to investigate other potential ramifications of early high school start times," he added.
Starting classes later in the morning may improve teen drivers'
alertness by allowing them to get more sleep, Vorona suggested.
"We believe that high schools should take a close look at having later start times to align with circadian rhythms in teens and to allow for longer sleep times," he said. "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."
Israeli researchers, reporting in the same issue of the journal,
say pushing back school start times by just one hour appears to
improve teens' mental functioning.
Their study of eighth-graders found that the 14-year-old
students were more attentive and made fewer mistakes when school
started one hour later. The students got about 55 minutes more
sleep and did better on tests requiring attention, the researchers
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says parents
are the key to
Copyright © 2011
. All rights reserved.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.