New Mexico teenagers might be safer on the road if school starts later. The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine published a study showing that when Fairfax County, Virginia, implemented a later school start time, accidents among teen drivers dropped. In the rest of Virginia, where school continued at the same earlier start time, there was no change in the accident rates.

The drop in Fairfax County was substantial, going from 31.63 accidents per 1,000 drivers to 29.59. School officials in the county changed the school start time from 7:20 a.m. to 8:10 a.m. at the start of the school year in 2015. In particular, the number of accidents involving distracted teens dropped. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine advises that the time middle and high school should start should be later than 8:30 a.m. to allow teens to perform their best academically and for better safety and health. The organization’s recommendation is that teens get 8 to 10 hours of sleep.

Delayed start times and getting enough sleep provide a number of other benefits for teens. They may be less likely to get sports injuries as well, and their mental and emotional health should improve.

Younger drivers are particularly susceptible to getting into accidents, but drowsiness and distraction are also significant factors in car crashes among people of all ages. When an accident happens for these or other reasons, such as speeding or drunk driving, the individual who caused the accident may be financially responsible for the expenses of the injured individuals. People who are injured in a motor vehicle accident may want to contact an attorney. While an insurance company is supposed to pay compensation, it may not do so readily, or the driver who is responsible may be underinsured. In some cases, it might be necessary to file a lawsuit.