Delaying school start times could save lives

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Starting school later in the morning could help prevent car accidents. One city in Virginia that had an opening time of 840am had crash rates for 16 to 18-year-olds 19.2% lower than in a near by town whose schools opened at 7:20am. According to Robert D. Vorona, MD, of Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, “Most of us in sleep medicine now believe that teenagers require nine-plus hours of sleep each night, and the consequences of insufficient sleep include excessive daytime sleepiness, mood disorders, and even potential suicidal ideation.” Although adolescents make up only 6% of licensed drivers, they account for 19% of all fatalities. Additionally, more than half of the annual car crashes associated with drowsiness and falling asleep on the road involve drivers ages 25 and younger. These numbers should be enough reason to listen to Vorona’s theory. He went on to say, “Many of us think that early high school start times could be problematic and may be a major determinant of these high rates of accidents and fatalities… later start times would be more in tune with teenagers’ circadian rhythm.” Click here to read an article from Medpage Today that discusses this study more.

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