According to a new study, teen drivers suffering from attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are more likely to engage in risky driving behaviors, particularly after receiving their driver’s license for the first time. Researchers conducted a longitudinal study comprised of 14,936 teen drivers who received their license between January 2004 and December 2014. These drivers were patients at several Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia practices. Of the 14,936 teenagers, 12 percent of the participants suffered from ADHD since childhood.
To examine how ADHD affects teen driving behavior, researchers examined participant traffic records, including violations and accidents. The results indicated that teens suffering from ADHD had a 62 percent higher chance of experiencing a car accident in the first month of obtaining a driver’s license. Furthermore, over a four-year period, teen drivers with ADHD have a 37 percent higher chance of experiencing an accident than other teens. The study’s results indicate that teen drivers with ADHD experience a higher risk of obtaining a traffic violation compared to other teen drivers. Many of these violations are linked to reckless behavior.
Reckless driving behavior identified in the study include:
A lower likelihood to wear a seat belt.
A higher likelihood of speeding.
A higher likelihood of participating in careless driving.
Due to reckless driving behaviors, teenagers with ADHD have a higher likelihood of being at fault in a motor vehicle accident. According to Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), untreated ADHD in an adult driver is similar to the impairment levels of an intoxicated driver. This level of impairment may be exacerbated in teenagers, since impulsivity is already a common trait in this age group.
Helping Teen Drivers with ADHD
The following are helpful tips for drivers suffering from ADHD:
Reduce distractions that include turning off cell phone notifications, eating before driving, and avoiding mental distractions, such as lengthy conversations.
Utilize doctor prescribed stimulant medication to improve driving habits.
Participate in a driver education program that works with drivers with ADHD.
Avoid lengthy highways and opt for backroad driving.
According to CHADD, these tips should improve the driving experience of a person suffering from ADHD. Typically, it is encouraged that those with ADHD learn about their symptoms. Self-awareness of symptoms allows patients to understand how it affects their driving. Ultimately, this will allow drivers to find solutions to improve driving habits and avoid motor vehicle collisions.