Archive for September, 2013

Teen Car Accident Risks and Start Times at Carolina Schools

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 58 percent of young people who are killed while traveling to and from school die in a collision with a teen driver. Deaths on the way to or from school were far more common with a teen behind the wheel.  By comparison, 23 percent of child deaths happened when the children were commuting to school in their parent’s car, and the remaining one percent of fatalities occurred when the commuting child was on the school bus. 

Car accident lawyers in Columbia, SC know that young drivers are at greater risk of getting into an accident than older motorists, which may help to explain these statistics. While there are many potential risk factors that account for the high teen car accident rate, one risk factor is drowsy driving.  Teens often get insufficient sleep due to school, sports and social activities. Studies have also shown that young people are less likely to pull over and rest when feeling fatigued behind the wheel as compared with older motorists.

Early School Starts Increase Car Accident Risk

Drowsy driving is a potential problem for teen drivers all the time, but the start of the school year is an especially dangerous time for young people. This is because, as a recent article on points out, many high schools start really early and kids have a very difficult time getting enough sleep.

Because high schools often share buses with elementary and middle schools as a cost-saving measure, school start times need to be staggered.  High schools are almost always the school that starts the earliest, and as a result, around 40 percent of public high schools in the United States open prior to 8 a.m.  The U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics also reported that only 15 percent of schools in the United States start at or after 8:30 in the morning.

Teachers have noticed that these early classes have a real impact on the teen’s ability to pay attention and learn, especially first thing in the morning. As the Coloradoan reported, one teacher said that attendance in first-period classes was often below 50 percent since kids couldn’t get up.  Kids would also be falling asleep in their early classes and were described as being exhausted.

The fact that kids are exhausted isn’t surprising when considering the school these kids attended started classes at 7:17 a.m. and some had to catch the bus as early as 5:50 a.m. to get to school on time.

Most teens and young adults need at least eight-hours of sleep to be rested enough to do their best academically and to be as alert as possible behind the wheel.  Unfortunately, this would mean that kids would need to go to bed sometimes as early as nine or 10 at night in order to get the recommended amount of rest. Since few teens are going to do this, you end up with a lot of tired teens.  When those tired teens get behind the wheel, they put themselves and others in danger.

Many schools are recognizing both the risk to safety and the impaired academic performance that comes with insufficient sleep and are considering making schools start later. Until this change is made, however, teens commuting to school need to be absolutely sure they get enough rest so they don’t present a risk on the roads.

Car accident lawyers in Columbia, SC can help auto accident victims. Contact the attorneys at Matthews & Megna today at 877-253-7705.