Teenagers everywhere should listen to this: The next time your parents yell at you to get up and get ready for school, tell them sleeping in will make you a safer driver. A recent study showed that the earlier start time a high school had, the higher the risk for teens to get into car accidents.
According to NPR’s health blog Shots, researchers compared the cities Virginia Beach and Chesapeake. Both have similar demographics, but different start times for school. Virginia Beach high schools started at 7:20am, whereas the schools in Chesapeake started at 8am. The researchers looked at the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles data from 2008, and found that crash rates in Virginia Beach were 41% higher than in Chesapeake.
“My thought would be in Virginia Beach, probably the students are getting less sleep because it looks like high school start times can be a major determinate of when these guys and gals get up and how much sleep they get,” the study’s lead author Dr. Robert Vorona, an associate professor at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, VA., told Shots.
According to Shots, the study does share common ground with a 2008 study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. After a country-wide school district pushed back the start time for schools, teen car crashes dropped 16%.
The study isn’t proof, though (sorry kids). It shows that teen car crashes can be linked to less sleep, but a lot more research needs to be done on just how much sleep the teens in these cities actually get.
“My bias is, based on the literature I’ve read, that a later high school start time would be helpful to our teenagers,” Vorona told Shots. “But I think before we are dogmatic and telling school administrators and parents and teachers that they should make this change that we’ve got to obtain more data.”