California residents with teen drivers should know that the possibility of driving drowsy and distracted can be especially high among this age group. Changes in teens’ circadian rhythm cause them to need to sleep longer and later into the day. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, teens need at least 8 to 10 hours of sleep a day. Where high schools start early in morning, though, teens may not achieve that amount.
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine has called attention to a possible link between later school start times and a decrease in the number of car crashes involving teen drivers. Researchers analyzed data surrounding these types of crashes over a two-year period in Fairfax County, Virginia, specifically one year before the county pushed its school start times from 7:20 a.m. to 8:10 a.m. and one year after. The change occurred in the fall of 2015.
Before the change, the rate of crashes involving teens was 31.6 per 1,000 drivers licensed and aged 16 to 18. In the year after, it went down to 29.6. The rest of the state, which did not change its school start times, saw no comparable change in teen car crash rates. The AASM recommends later school start times as they improve driving safety, psychological well-being and academic performance.
Despite aims to minimize the risk for distracted driving car crashes, such accidents still happen. Teens who become distracted or drowsy pose a threat to other drivers, so if they do crash, they will be considered negligent. As for the victims of such a crash, they may file a personal injury claim, but they might not have the ability to gather evidence on their own. For this and other steps in filing a claim, a lawyer may be necessary.