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How Do ADD and ADHD Affect Driving?

written by: Olive Estrella Coronado • edited by: Linda Richter • updated: 10/31/2010

Teenagers, especially the excited first-time drivers and those who are inexperienced, tend to be careless and indecisive on the road. The risk involved greatly increases for those with ADD and ADHD.

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    Effects of ADD and ADHD on Driving

    It had been reported many times in several researches that accidents on the road are the leading cause of death among teenagers. sxc.hu, wheel with spokes by V Dean What more can happen when these teens have ADD or ADHD? The existing problem with ADD and ADHD drivers is not only prevalent among teenagers, but can also be observed with adults.

    Driving and attention deficit disorder simply do not mix well. A person with such a condition would tend to pay more attention to a child skateboarding on the pavement than to the car moving toward him. He is likely to get caught up fumbling with the CD player and easily become distracted by simple talk instead of focusing on his driving. While those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder may display the same inclinations, they would also tend to be highly impulsive, immature, and show poor judgment. Furthermore, teenagers with ADHD have been shown in many studies to speed more than the regular teenager.

    Other warning signs that ADD and ADHD drivers are likely to exhibit include the following:

    • Difficulty in immediately responding to traffic lights
    • Difficulty or failure in yielding the right of way
    • Fluctuation in speed
    • Drifting to other thoughts or matters while driving
    • Inability to anticipate possibly dangerous situations
    • Difficulty in observing road signs or signals
    • Weakened hand-foot-eye coordination
    • Easy distraction and apparent moodiness while driving
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    Dealing with the Effects

    Parents can help ADD and ADHD teen drivers in several ways, beginning with a deal that they cannot be allowed to go off on their own without proving themselves worthy on the road. Adults can likewise follow these tips by making a pact with themselves to be disciplined when it comes to driving. They can opt to ask a trusted relative or friend's help while still learning to focus and be a better driver.

    Here are some tips that can be done to deal with the effects of ADD and ADHD on driving:

    • Medication can be taken before driving.
    • Seatbelt must be worn, and other safety precautions must be followed at all times.
    • A log of each trip must be kept--- time of departure and arrival, destination, difficulties encountered.
    • No passengers must join the ADD/ADHD driver for a few months, except for his official guide.
    • A limit should be set for the distance allowed for driving, as well as a curfew.
    • CDs cannot be changed while driving, and radio stations must be pre-set.
    • Car must be stopped before making or answering phone calls only for emergencies.
    • Avoid driving during the rush hour and night time.
    • Avoid alcohol and drugs at all times.
    • Privilege to drive should be cut for a week or so if the ADD/ADHD driver fails to follow road rules such as signaling before turning, going over the speed limit, and running red lights.

    Sometimes, the fusion of driving and attention deficit disorder just cannot be helped. Thus, the tips given above must be followed until the ADD/ADHD driver becomes disciplined and trained in driving responsibly.

    References:

    ADDitude Editors: Driving contract, at http://www.additudemag.com/adhd-web/article/579.html.

    Vaxa: Driving with ADHD: Teenagers behind the wheel, at http://www.vaxa.com/teenager-adhd-driving.cfm.

    Fortin, Judy. CNN. Teen drivers with ADD a problem on the road, at http://edition.cnn.com/2008/HEALTH/conditions/09/15/hm.driving.add/index.html.

    Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists. Driving and ADHD, at http://www.driver-ed.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=253.

    National Resource Center on AD/HD. ADHD and driving, at http://www.help4adhd.org/en/living/parenting/driving.

    Image Credit: sxc.hu, V Dean

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