Georgia teens may drive more safely when they get enough sleep before school. One study’s authors examined a county where school start times were delayed from 7:20 a.m. in the first year to 8:10 a.m. the following year. The researchers examined car accident records for teen drivers for one year before and one year after the school start time change. Many physicians and other experts have encouraged school districts to open schools later in the day because teens in particular can find health and educational benefits from increased sleep.

The study found that there could also be an improvement in driver safety due to delayed start times at school. Researchers noted that accidents among teen drivers aged 16 to 18 fell from 31.63 per 1,000 drivers to 29.59 after the change in school starting times. Elsewhere in the state where school start times remained the same, there was no similar improvement in motor vehicle accident rates among teens. The study’s authors noted that car accidents are the leading cause of death for American teens, and changing high school starting times could save lives by mitigating the crash risk.

Drowsy driving is known to be dangerous; drivers of any age can cause serious car accidents when they operate a vehicle while sleep deprived. Some have compared the effects of drowsiness to those of alcohol, and federal regulations limit the number of hours that truck drivers are on the road in an attempt to clamp down on fatigue. The researchers in this study found that teen drivers were also less likely to be distracted when they started school later.

Negligent drivers can lead to serious car accidents whether they are drowsy, drunk or distracted, and the victims may contend with severe injuries and rising medical bills. A personal injury attorney may help victims to seek compensation for their losses caused by a car crash.