Columbia Drunk Driving Accident Risks a Spring Focus

In 2012, 358 people in the state of South Carolina were killed in motor vehicle collisions involving impaired drivers. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) indicates that this was a 16 percent increase compared with the number of DUI fatalities in 2011. MADD also indicates that South Carolina is one of the worst states in the country when it comes to impaired driving.  

Drunk driving accident lawyers in Columbia, SC represent victims who sustain car accident injuries in collisions with impaired motorists and know the devastation these accidents can cause. It is important to do everything possible to stop motorists from driving while intoxicated and causing serious harm to themselves or others. One way to do that is to develop a better understanding of who is driving drunk so education and enforcement campaigns can be better targeted to at-risk motorists.

Who is Driving While Impaired?

Research has been done to provide insight into which drivers are most likely to operate their vehicles when they are impaired. The Century Council published a report on the rise of female drunk drivers and on the differences between male and female motorists when it comes to intoxication. The report showed:

  • Road research has consistently demonstrated over the years that drunk driving is primarily done by males, but in the past three decades there have been a growing number of women driving drunk. Changes in social norms, changes in female roles and changes in social control mechanisms may all contribute to explaining the rise in impaired female motorists.
  • The number of female DWI arrests has risen on a national level by 28.8 percent between 1998 and 2007.  In 1980, only nine percent of DUI-arrestees were female. By 2004, 20 percent of the individuals arrested were women.
  • The percent of female drunk drivers in fatal collisions was 12 percent in the 1980’s, 13 percent in the 1990s and 14 percent in the 2000’s.
  • The percentage of female drivers who tested positive for any amount of alcohol in fatal collisions was 18 percent in 2005 and 16 percent in 2009.
  • In 2008, 1,837 fatalities in crashes involved an alcohol-impaired female driver.

Women, therefore, are still less likely than men to drive while intoxicated. Among those women who do drive drunk, many have been found to a substantial addiction problem. Women face addiction not only to alcohol but also to sedatives and other drugs.

Knowing that men are the most likely DUI offenders is only part of understanding who drives drunk most often. Politifact also recently looked at the assertion that the majority of drunk-driving deaths and injuries were caused by first-time offenders with no prior record of driving impaired.  Mothers Against Drunk Driving had made this statement, which Politifact declared to be true.

Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) confirmed MADD’s assertion because 93 percent of drivers involved in fatal collisions who have a blood-alcohol level of .08 or higher did not have a prior drunk driving conviction in the past three years.

By considering this information about who is most likely to drive drunk and cause accidents, hopefully steps can be taken to educate high-risk drivers and better enforce rules against drunk driving to bring down the number of injuries and deaths.

Contact Columbia injury lawyers at Matthews & Megna LLC by calling 1-803-799-1700. 

Columbia Bicycle and Pedestrian Crash Prevention Benefit of New Initiative

A South Carolina bicycle crash nearly killed a cyclist in Greenville recently, after state troopers say he was struck by a pickup truck while attempting to cross the road.  It was believed at first that the cyclist would not survive, but authorities now say he is likely to pull through. 

Our accident lawyers in Columbia, SC understand that such incidents are at the core of why legislators are aggressively working to pass the Safe Streets Act of 2014, also known as S. 2004. The measure would require all federally-funded road construction projects to follow the guidelines set forth by the Complete Streets model.

Whereas many of today’s current transportation infrastructure is focused on safety and efficiency for motor vehicle drivers, the Complete Streets initiative focuses on ensuring better streets for all travelers, with specific care paid to bicyclists, pedestrians and those using public transportation.

Aging “baby boomer” generation leads to increase in pedestrian traffic

Pedestrian safety will only grow more important over the next decade or two, as the baby boomer population ages. Those who have reached a point where they can no longer safely operate a motor vehicle must rely more heavily upon public transportation and walking.

The baby boom generation is the largest in U.S. history, and in 2011, the first wave turned 65. The last of these will not reach age 65 until 2030.

What’s more, The Atlantic recently published an article referencing a study last year by the National Alliance for Biking and Walking that indicated the southern U.S. states are the most dangerous per biker per miles traveled – by a wide margin.

For example, if you ride a bicycle in South Carolina, you are 10 times more likely to be hit and killed by a vehicle than if you rode a bike in Oregon (one of the country’s safer states for cycling). In North Carolina, you are eight times more likely to die. In Mississippi, you are 13 times more likely to suffer a fatal injury on a bicycle.

Can South Carolina do more to prevent pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities?

A recent report on transportation spending, conducting by the Advocacy Advance, discovered that southern states as a whole spend the least on biking and walking safety infrastructure. Where Massachusetts allocated more than 5 percent of its transportation budget to pedestrian and bicycling facilities, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, Louisiana and Florida spent one half of one percent of their total transportation budget on the same.

This is despite the fact that bicyclist fatalities increased 9 percent from 2010 to 2011. This increase occurred even though overall motor vehicle fatalities have been on a steady decrease over the last several years.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveals that nearly 680 bicyclists were killed across the U.S. in 2011, and another nearly 50,000 were injured. A third of these incidents happened in a rural setting.

The average age of pedalcyclist fatalities in 2011 was 43. The average injured was 32. These are both sharp increases from what we saw in 2002, when the average age was 36 for bicycle fatalities and 28 for injuries.

The Safe Streets Act, which is currently before the Committee on Environment and Public Works, would require all states to become compliant within two years of passage.

Contact Columbia injury lawyers at Matthews & Megna LLC by calling 1-803-799-1700. 

Distracted Driving in South Carolina a Critical Risk

A recent analysis by KTX Insurance Brokers indicates that far more crashes are caused by distracted driving than previously believed.

For all the various kinds of distracted driving – from texting while driving to putting on makeup to scolding children in the backseat – it’s often tough to prove in the event of a moving violation or crash. Frequently, researchers found, these incidents are lumped into the category of “careless driving.”

Our Columbia, SC accident attorneys recognize that unlike drunk driving, authorities may find it all but impossible to establish that a motorist was distracted at the time of the wreck. They may rely on witness statements, the driver’s own statements or cell phone and text messaging records. But even those aren’t always reliable.

Distracted driving accidents on the rise in South Carolina

Formal estimates from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicate that 421,000 people were injured in motor vehicle accidents caused by distracted driving in 2012. That’s a nine percent increase from what was reported from a year earlier.

The issue is major in South Carolina, which remains one of the only states in the country still lacking a cell phone or texting ban. There is a proposed measure that recently headed to the floor of the state senate. If the amended bill becomes law, it would mandate a $100 fine for a first-time texting while driving offense, a $200 fine for the second, and a $300 fine for the third, accompanied by two points on one’s driver’s license. The original draft would have required a $100 fine and no points for a first-time offense, a $500 fine for the second, with both carrying a two-point penalty.

Although the penalties are substantially weaker, they are considerably higher than what the original draft proposed, which was a $25 fine.

Some individual municipalities, such as Summerville, have been pursuing their own texting bans, but some of those have been set aside in anticipation of a statewide ban.

Hands-free technology may do more harm than good

Even if the measure passes, it’s highly unlikely to curb all forms of distraction. In fact, more continue to emerge. Take, for example, the rise of in-vehicle “infotainment” systems. Most new models of vehicles are being manufactured with infotainment systems standard issue. These are systems that are equipped with GPS navigation, speech-to-text technology, hands-free phone capabilities, music systems, access to social media and even videos and games.

Some manufacturers have promoted these systems as “safe” – or at least “safer” than using handheld devices.

However, new research from the AAA Foundation suggests that not only are these systems equally if not more dangerous than handheld devices, the way they are marketed may provide drivers with a false sense of security.

The study found that the typical, in-car activities were highly cognitively distracting. Study results were rated on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 was a single driver with no distractions. Listening to the radio boosted the distraction level to 1.21. Having a passenger in the car upped the distraction level to 2.33. Talking on a cell phone increased the distraction level to 2.45.

The most dangerous? Listening and responding to e-mail using speech-to-text infotainment systems – rating 3.06 on the distraction scale.

Contact a Columbia, S.C. accident attorney at Matthews & Megna by calling 1-803-799-1700. 

Columbia Car Accidents Deaths Remain Serious Risk for Children

A new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention brightly asserts that child fatalities stemming from motor vehicle accidents are down 43 percent over the last decade. 

But of course, the Columbia, South Carolina personal injury lawyers of Matthews & Megna, LLC know there is a lot more to this story.

You may recall just recently the car accident death of a 7-year-old in Sumter County. The South Carolina Highway Patrol reports it happened around 7 a.m. on a Monday, when a Mazda and a Saturn collided on the highway. The Mazda driver was unhurt, but the man in the Saturn was injured, as was an 8-year-old passenger. The 7-year-old in that car was pronounced dead at the scene.

All had been wearing their seat belts, authorities say, and the crash remains under investigation.

The fact is, traffic collisions remain the top cause of fatalities for children who are under 4 and also for kids between the ages of 8 and 14. They are one of the leading causes for kids of all ages.

In South Carolina, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports there were 31 child traffic deaths in our state in 2011, the last year for which finalized figures are available. Of those, eight were between the ages of 1 and 3; seven were between the ages of 4 and 7; and 16 were between the ages of 8 and 14.

We rank in the top 15 states in the nation for the number of child deaths attributed to motor vehicle crashes.

The South Carolina Budget and Control Board reports that while traffic deaths of children under the age of 5 have been on the decline here in the Palmetto State, they continue to be a leading cause of death for children in this age group.

The recent drop-off is partially attributed to stricter child safety restraint laws and better parental education of those requirements. Still, South Carolina has one of the most lax child restraint laws in the country. It is among 12 other states that only require child safety restraints up to age 5. The majority of other states require them until age 6 or 7. Two states, Tennessee and Wyoming, require them until the child reaches 8 years-of-age.

About one-third of the 9,000 children who were killed in traffic crashes from 2002 through 2011 weren’t wearing a proper safety restraint, the CDC reports. Among black children, that figure was 45 percent. Among Hispanic children, that figure was 46 percent.

The study did not further explore why these racial differences were so pronounced, though the authors did suggest that socio-economic factors may play a role.

This is troubling, of course, but it also means that the majority of parents are buckling their children the right way. Seat belt use overall increased from 88 percent in 2002 to 91 percent in 2011 among children 7 and under.

Where researchers identified the biggest lapse was among older children, between the ages of 8 and 14. South Carolina statistics bear out those findings as well.

Properly belting in your child won’t prevent a fatigued trucker or drunk driver from causing a collision. It can, however, give your child a fighting chance for survival in the face of a serious motor vehicle collision.

Call Matthews & Megna in Columbia, SC today at 877-253-7705 or visit for a free consultation.

SC DUI for DOT Director Highlights Road Risks

Most everyone in the state has been talking about the arrest and subsequent resignation of the secretary of South Carolina’s Department of Transportation amid allegations of drunk driving. 

According to news reports, the 66-year-old official tendered his resignation after being arrested by Lexington County deputies around 8 a.m. after he was spotted allegedly driving erratically. He reportedly failed a field sobriety test. His blood-alcohol content is said to have measured 0.20 percent – more than double the legal limit of 0.08.

While the state official expressed “heartfelt regret” for his actions, at Matthews & Meade, our drunk driving accident lawyers in Columbia, SC have seen so many cases in which offering an apology doesn’t even come close to rectifying the tragedy and heartache caused.

Take for example the recent crash in Conway on Highway 90. According to authorities with the South Carolina Highway Patrol, a 20-year-old driver veered into an oncoming lane of traffic in Horry County around 6:15 on a Sunday morning, striking another vehicle head-on. Inside that vehicle was a 27-year-old restaurant manager and mother of two young children. She died at the scene.

The 20-year-old driver, who was reportedly drunk at the time of the collision, has been booked on felony DUI charges.

Such actions are inexcusable. But that a state official – more than three times this young man’s age and who is responsible for ensuring safety on our roadways – would engage in this conduct is shameful. His resignation was appropriate, despite the fact that no one was hurt prior to his arrest and even though the governor pointed to a long career of valuable public service. He had previously retired from the army as a major general.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were an estimated 10,322 traffic deaths attributed to drunk drivers in 2012. That is, those cases involved at least one driver who had a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 percent or higher.

That accounts for roughly one-third of all traffic deaths annually. It’s even higher here in South Carolina, which ranks as one of the worst states for DUI fatalities. According to the local chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, there were 358 traffic deaths resulting from drunk drivers in the state in 202, which represented 41 percent of the total. It was also a 16 percent increase from the previous year.

Taxpayer subsidies for drunk driving deaths in South Carolina are estimated to be somewhere around $1.75 billion.

Congress recently reported that more than 22 percent of those between the ages of 12 and 20 reported drinking alcohol in the last month. Thirteen percent reported binge drinking in the last 30 days.

What is especially troubling is that many of those responsible for fatalities in DUI crashes in 2012 had prior driving records. For example, of those found responsible for DUI-related fatalities with a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 percent or higher, 13 percent had reported crashes, 7 percent had prior DUI convictions, 19 percent had speeding convictions and 25 percent had license suspensions or revocations.

All of this would have been known to someone like the state’s DOT director. And yet, he allegedly chose to drive drunk anyway.

Drunk driving victims in Columbia, SC should cal Matthews & Megna today at 877-253-7705 or visit for a free consultation.

South Carolina Drivers Ranked as the Second Worst in the Country

Car Insurance Comparison recently released a list ranking all of the states in the U.S. in terms of which locations had the safest drivers.  Unfortunately for the state of South Carolina, and for the people on the roads within the state, South Carolina had the second worst drivers in the entire country. Only the state of Louisiana fared worse. 

To rank the different locations, Car Insurance Comparison used data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as well as other available information on the number of car accidents and the number of violations of driver safety laws within the states. An experienced car accident attorney in Columbia, SC knows that one of the areas where South Carolina did the worst was in the number of intoxicated motorists on the roads. While the high rate of drunk drivers in South Carolina played a key rolling in causing a relatively high number of auto accident fatalities, there were also other dangerous behaviors that South Carolina drivers tended to engage in.

Drivers in South Carolina should consider the Car Insurance Comparison information an important wake-up call. Motorists shouldn’t have to fear being injured or killed by a drunk or careless driver on the roads and every motorist owes a duty to others on the road to behave in a reasonably prudent way in order to avoid deadly wrecks.

South Carolina Ranks Poorly for Drunk Driving & Other Dangerous Behaviors

Taking a close look at the different categories that Car Insurance Comparison used to rate the states, it is clear that there were some specific bad behaviors that resulted in drivers earning their place as the second worst in the country.

The fact that South Carolina ranked number 49th out of 50 states in terms of drunk driving was especially bad news since driving while intoxicated can more than double the risk of becoming involved in a crash. South Carolina also ranked 50 out of 50 in the category of careless driving. In prior years, South Carolina was ranked third best in the Careless Driving category, so this was a dramatic shift that moved the state from having the 11th worst drivers in the country to having the second worst.

South Carolina did improve in the category of failure to obey, which refers to traffic signals and seat belts. In this category, the state ranked 29th out of 50 states. Wearing your seat belt is especially important every time you are in the vehicle. If you are involved in an accident with a careless or intoxicated driver, having a seat belt on could potentially save your life.

Finally, South Carolina also ranked number 38 in regards to the number of tickets drivers received. Increasing police presence and issuing more tickets could perhaps help the state to improve in other categories by reducing the rate of drunk driving and by reducing the rate of careless driving.

Call Matthews & Megna in Columbia, SC today at 877-253-7705 today for a free case consultation.

Are You At Risk of a Holiday Auto Accident?

An auto accident is a surefire way to ruin the holiday season, especially if you or a loved one is seriously hurt in the collision. Unfortunately, car accident claims increase by 20 percent during the month of December. This increase can partially be explained by the fact that there are more people on the roads getting holiday shopping done or traveling to visit their family members. However, the increase can also be partly explained by another more troubling factor: more angry drivers and more instances of road-rage. 

Personal injury lawyers in Columbia, SC know that aggressive and angry drivers often make dangerous driving decisions, such as cutting off other motorists or following too closely behind the vehicle in front of them. Unfortunately, data shows that holiday stress tends to make drivers more angry and more aggressive, thus increasing the chances of a road rage accident happening.

Road Rage Could Cause Holiday Crashes

State Farm Insurance recently conducted an in-depth study into how holiday stress affects travelers and found that 32 percent of drivers were more likely to become aggressive during the holidays. This is bad news, especially since a Washington Post poll taken earlier this summer showed that as many as 12 percent of drivers already said they experienced road rage fairly often and 21 percent of motorists said that they occasionally felt hostility to others on the road.

The increase in angry drivers occurs throughout December, but certain days of the month are worse than others. A study of 10 years of auto accident data has revealed that the six days around December 25th tend to be the worst time for car accidents. During these six days, there are 18 percent more accidents than Thanksgiving weekend, which is the heaviest travel period of the entire year. There are also 27 percent more car accidents than occur on New Year’s Eve, which tends to be a day when there is an extremely high number of accidents caused by intoxicated drivers.

While both December 24th and December 25th are usually safer days because people aren’t on the roads as much, the Friday before Christmas this year is expected to be an especially dangerous day. The risk on Friday will be compounded by the fact that there are many people traveling on that day to see friends and family, at the same time as there are also going to be commuters coming home from work and people scrambling to finish up last minute shopping.

Are You At Risk?

Because you are likely to encounter a lot of traffic and a lot of angry drivers, you and your loved ones could be at risk when you travel in the car during this time of year. While there is nothing you can do to make other people behave in a more safe way, you can control your own behavior and try to reduce the chances of becoming involved in a collision.

The best thing to do is to make sure you leave yourself ample time to arrive to where you are going so you won’t feel pressure to speed or go too fast, and to make sure that you stay calm, alert and aware of what other drivers are doing. If you follow these tips, you can hopefully stay safe through the New Year.

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

Night-Shift Workers at Risk of Accidents: What Can You Do to Stay Safe?

A 25-year-old woman was killed in a Columbia traffic accident this November as she was heading home from work at approximately 5:00 a.m.  According to WISTV, the accident is still under investigation and it is not clear why the woman’s vehicle veered off the road, hitting both a tree and a utility pole. 

While there are many reasons why this young victim may have become involved in this deadly crash, any car accident attorney in Columbia SC knows that individuals who work nights and who come home in the early hours of the morning are at serious risk of becoming involved in an auto accident as a result of such a work schedule.

Night-Shift Workers Face Dangers on the Road

According to the American Psychological Association, almost 15 million Americans either work a permanent job on the night shift or rotate into a position that requires at least periodic work at night. Many of the individuals who take these jobs do not have time to adjust their sleep schedules or take the work because they need the money regardless of whether they find themselves overtired.

Unfortunately, the APA indicates that many of these workers are at serious risk because their circadian clock is off. The circadian clock is essentially a timer within the body that controls the release of certain hormones and that controls alertness, mood, body temperature and other aspects of your daily cycle. Based on the circadian clock and on your body chemistry, the body will naturally start to relax after dark and become more alert once morning comes.

For those who work third shift jobs, who work overnight and who are coming home in the early morning like the recent accident victim, this natural body process of relaxing for the evening is a problematic. As the American Psychological Association points out, working against your natural sleep cycle and reflexes can cause fatigue, sleep disorders, delayed reflexes, warped perspective, difficulty making decisions and decreased immune function.

All of this means that a driver who works nights is more likely to suffer from excessive sleepiness or insomnia. Drivers who suffer from these types of disorders and drivers who try to drive home early in the morning after working all night are more likely to nod off behind the wheel and are thus more likely to become involved in drowsy driving accidents.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide some tips for shift workers to reduce the risk of accidents. The CDC recommends:

  • Making sure you leave sufficient time to get sleep after working a night shift.
  • Avoiding alcohol or heavy foods before going to sleep and reducing the use of stimulants several hours before trying to sleep so you do not interfere with your sleep schedule.
  • Sleeping someplace dark, cool and quiet to make it possible to fall asleep quickly and remain asleep for a full night’s rest.
  • Getting help from a healthcare provider if you are having a hard time getting to sleep.

By following these tips, hopefully the risks that shift workers face on the road can be reduced.

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

South Carolina Motorcycle Accident An Important Safety Reminder

A motorcycle accident in South Carolina has left behind a 4-year-old girl after both her parents were killed in the crash. The accident occurred on the Highway 17 Bypass when the motorcyclist reportedly lost control of the bike and struck a Chevrolet Trailblazer. Neither the motorcyclist nor his wife were wearing helmets and both were killed in the crash. ABC 13  reports that the motorcycle accident was the second the couple had been involved with, as a prior crash several years earlier had severely injured the man. 

Personal injury lawyers in South Carolina know that motorcycle accidents are common, with 1,819 crashes occurring in 2010 alone. Motorcycle riders are 30 times more likely to die and five times as likely to be injured in motorcycle accidents. Riders need to understand the risks and take steps to protect their safety.

Motorcycle Crashes Dangerous for Motorcyclists in South Carolina

The number of motorcycle accidents has been on the rise both nationwide and in South Carolina. The SC Department of Public Safety reports that there was a 5.8 percent increase in the number of motorcycle crashes in the state from 2009 to 2010. During this same time period, there was also a 10 percent increase in the number of motorcycle accident deaths.

While motorcycles accounted for just 1.7 percent of traffic accidents in South Carolina in 2010, a total of 10 percent of all traffic fatalities over the course of the year happened in motorcycle accidents.  The average age of those killed on a motorcycle was 41. There were 81 deaths among riders and passengers on motorcycles in 2010.

Motorcycle riders need to be aware of the risks of riding and should do everything possible to avoid being injured or killed in a motorcycle crash. Motorcyclists should:

  • Wear helmets when riding. Helmets aren’t required for motorcyclists over age 21 in South Carolina, but riders who do wear helmets are 71 percent less likely to incur a traumatic brain injury than those who do not have helmets on.  Motorcyclists with helmets are also 37 percent less likely to die in a motorcycle accident.
  • Wear brightly colored clothing and use bike reflectors to make it easier for drivers to see them.
  • Make eye contact with drivers and use hand signals and turn signals to communicate their intentions to drivers.
  • Avoid higher-risk behavior such as speeding and lane splitting.

While these behaviors can make motorcycle riders safer, drivers also play a major role in causing motorcycle accidents and motorists should make a commitment to drive safely in order to reduce the risk of causing a motorcycle crash. To help motorcyclists stay safe, drivers of passenger cars should:

  • Pay attention to the road and avoid behaviors such as drowsy, drunk or distracted driving that make it more difficult to see a motorcycle rider.
  • Give motorcyclists the right-of-way when required. Motorcycles should be treated just like any other car on the road.
  • Avoid speeding or tailgating behind a motorcycle rider.
  • Remember motorcycle riders are more affected by changes in the road surface than passenger cars.

If every motorcyclist and driver does his or her part to be safer on the roads, hopefully the number of tragic South Carolina motorcycle accidents can decline.

Personal injury lawyers in South Carolina can help motorcycle accident victims. Contact the attorneys at Matthews & Megna today at 877-253-7705.

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.