Think About It: Traffic and Teen Brains - KFVE, K5-Hawaii News Now, Local Programming

April 1, 2013

Think About It: Traffic and Teen Brains

Morning drive time traffic was relatively non-existent last week, due in large part to a couple of holidays and many local schools celebrating the week long spring break. Which got me to thinking, what if we finally adjusted the start time of the school day to help alleviate traffic?  Many people don't deal with carpooling or driving kids to school, and they would still be on the roads getting to work between 6:30 and 8am.

But if schools started one-hour or even 30-minutes later, lots of things would happen. Number one, a staggered morning drive would allow for less traffic, and quicker commutes. Number two, and perhaps just as important, we would finally recognize the fact that circadian rhythms of adolescents simply don't allow them to get up and go early in the morning like adults. Natural sleep-wake cycles are simply different for teens as their bodies and brains change. Many a teacher has complained about bleary-eyed or deer-in-the-headlight students in the early hours.  Starting school a bit later might allow for more sleep and also would allow for kids' internal clocks to get going more naturally.

A recent study of 10,000 students showed that starting school one-hour later resulted in fewer teen car accidents in the AM, too. And teachers report better interaction and attention when school starts a bit later. Yes, it might affect some after school activities, but engaged students and less traffic are two solid scenarios if we look at changing the morning drive time for some. Think about it…


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