Wednesday April 8, 2020

Here’s how Late School Start Times Can Reduce Road Accidents

Starting school late reduce car crashes, improve teen safety

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Road accidents
Researchers have found that later school start times were associated with a significant drop in vehicle accidents. Pixabay

Parents and teachers, please take note. Lifestyle researchers have found that later school start times were associated with a significant drop in vehicle accidents involving teenage drivers.

For the study, published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, the research team analysed motor vehicle accident statistics involving adolescents in Fairfax County, Virginia, the US, for two school years before and after the implementation of later school start times.

The research showed that the crash rate in 16-to-18-year-old licensed drivers decreased significantly from 31.63 to 29.59 accidents per 1,000 drivers after the delayed start time. In contrast, the teen crash rate remained steady throughout the rest of the state.

“We know from independent data sources that after a change in school start times students get more sleep, which leads to multiple benefits, not just for individuals but also in terms of huge economic implications,” said study senior author Judith Owens from Boston University in the US.

Teenagers who get more sleep are less likely to make poor decisions such as not wearing a seat belt or engaging in distracted driving,” explained Owens. “One of the potential mechanisms for this reduction in car crashes is a decrease in behaviours that are related to risk-taking,” Owens added.

Road accidents
The research showed that the rate of road accidents in 16-to-18-year-old licensed drivers decreased significantly from 31.63 to 29.59 accidents per 1,000 drivers after the delayed start time. Pixabay

The study compared motor vehicle crash rates among adolescents in the differing school start times in Fairfax County, which in the fall of 2015 pushed back school start times by 50 minutes from 7:20 a.m. to 8:10 a.m. Data also were compared to teenage crashes in the rest of the state, where school start times did not change.

The analysis also found that the later school start time was associated with a lower rate of distraction-related accidents.
According to the researchers, a delayed school start time offers several benefits, such as, students will be more alert to achieve peak classroom performance, there will be a greater likelihood that teens will get enough sleep on school nights, students will experience better mental health and psychological well-being and teen driving safety will improve

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“When schools start too early, students are being asked to wake up and function at a time when their circadian rhythm is telling them to stay asleep,” Owens said. “Changing school start times not only allows students to get more sleep but allows them to sleep at the optimal time. When they sleep may be equally important, if not more so, than how much sleep they get,” she added. (IANS)

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Are Women Better Drivers Than Men? Read This Article to Know More

Women can actually be better, safe drivers than men

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women driving
It is a common myth that women are not good at driving. Pixabay

Busting a common myth that women are bad at wheels, researchers now say that male drivers are more dangerous on the road and are also more likely to drive more dangerous types of vehicles.

Women may actually be better and safer drivers than men, they added.

The findings, published in the journal The BMJ, prompt the researchers to suggest that greater gender equity in road transport jobs, overall, might help lessen these risks.

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“We suggest policy-makers consider policies to increase gender balance in occupations that substantially involve driving, given the greater likelihood that other road users will be killed if men rather than women are driving or riding,” the researchers wrote.

women driving
Women may actually be better and safer drivers than men, said researchers. Pixabay

For the findings, researchers at University of Westminster drew on four sets of official data for England for the period 2005-15: police injury statistics, Road Traffic Statistics, National Travel Survey data and Office for National Statistics population/gender figures.

They used the data to analyse the risks posed to other road users from bicycles, cars and taxis, vans, buses, lorries and motorbikes per billion vehicle kilometres travelled, and categorised by road type–major and minor roads in urban and rural areas–and gender.

In terms of absolute numbers, cars and taxis were associated with most (two-thirds) of fatalities to other road users.

But a comparison of fatalities per distance travelled shows that other vehicles might be even more dangerous.

According to the researchers, lorries were associated with one in six deaths to other road users: each km driven was associated with more than five times the number of such deaths than each km driven in a car. There was a similarly high death toll for buses per km driven.

women driving
Men drive in a harsher manner than women. Pixabay

Despite their small size, motorbikes also put other road users at high risk. In urban areas, most of those deaths–173 over the entire study period–were pedestrians.

Analysis of the data by gender showed that men posed a significantly higher risk to other road users for five of the six-vehicle types studied.

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For cars and vans, the risk posed by male drivers was double that posed by women per km driven, rising to four times higher for lorry drivers, and more than 10 times higher for motorbike riders.

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In a linked podcast, the researchers pointed out that driving jobs tend to be male-dominated, citing the high death toll to other road users associated with lorries, 95 per cent of which are driven by men.

While lorries, in general, are dangerous vehicles, male lorry drivers pose a particularly high risk compared to female lorry drivers, she adds. (IANS)