California residents with teen drivers should know that there is a possible connection between the rate of car crashes involving teens and the time at which school starts every day. The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine published a study saying that later school start times may reduce the number of crashes with teen drivers. Teens get more sleep and become less likely to make poor decisions like neglecting the seatbelt or driving distractedly.

Researchers analyzed two years’ worth of data on car crashes that occurred in Fairfax County, Virginia, and involved teens. Then, they compared crash rates before and after the county implemented a later school start time. Before the change, the rate of crashes involving 16- to 18-year-old licensed drivers was 31.63 per 1,000 drivers. After the change, it went down to 29.59 per 1,000 drivers.

Specifically, the county pushed back the start time from 7:20 am to 8:10 am back in the autumn of 2015. Throughout the rest of the state, where school start times did not change, the teen crash rate remained steady in the two years studied.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine supports such changes, saying that high school start times of 8:30 am or later promote teens’ health and academic performance in addition to road safety. Schools may soon receive incentives for delaying their start times.

This is one effective way, then, to reduce the number of car accidents caused by distraction. Still, inattention does not always stem from lack of sleep. Whatever the cause of distraction, those who are injured at the hands of a distracted driver can file a personal injury claim. Before they can negotiate for a fair amount in compensatory damages, though, they need to prove the other’s negligence. A lawyer may assist with this and other steps.