Residents of DuPage County may wonder how starting school later could have an impact on auto accident and bus accident rates around the Chicago suburbs. While the answer might not seem immediately apparent, the answer concerns drowsy driving and its effect on traffic collisions.
According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, “if school districts throughout the state [of Illinois] moved starting times to 8:30 a.m., so middle and high school students could sleep longer, Illinois’ economy would gain $1 billion within five years.” That economic increase would come from a drastic drop in motor vehicle crash rates, the Rand Corp. reported via a recent study.
Drowsy driving is a serious issue among teen drivers, even though it often does not get as much attention as teen driving issues such as distracted driving or impaired driving.
Car Crashes Linked to Drowsy Teen Driving
As the article emphasizes, “sleep-deprived adolescents” are responsible for more early morning and late afternoon car crashes than one might think. When teens do not get enough sleep, and then drive to school the following day, they can have trouble focusing behind the wheel—both on their way to school and on the way home. When teenagers drive drowsy, they can cause crashes on the highways in addition to being involved in accidents around school zones involving other student pedestrians.
It is not only the Rand researchers who think teens need to get more sleep. To be sure, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has also noted that teenagers need to get more sleep on average and that later school start times could help with this problem. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that no schools should start before 8:30 a.m. Like the AAP, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also encouraged schools to start later so that teens can get more sleep.
Drowsy Driving: Get the Facts
The studies mentioned have been taken seriously in and around Chicago. The average start time for Chicago Public Schools is around 8:11 a.m., which is later than the average for many other school districts around the country. At the same time, a number of schools in Chicagoland still begins quite early—many at 7:30 a.m.—which can increase sleep deprivation risks for teens.
Researchers argue that later start times are an easy and proven method for reducing car crashes, and we should take these recommendations to heart.
How often does drowsy driving actually lead to crashes? A fact sheet from DrowsyDriving.org cites the following facts and figures:
Contact a Car Crash Lawyer in Lombard, IL
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