People in Illinois who are diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder may be likelier to be involved in car accidents, according to a recent study. Adolescents who are diagnosed with ADHD are especially at risk of accident involvement. While adults with ADHD have more years of experience to help them when driving, teens lack experience and tend to overestimate their driving abilities. When teenagers also have ADHD, they are at greater risk of accidents because of difficulty focusing and an increase in distractibility.
Increased Risk of Accidents With ADHD
ADHD causes people to be easily distracted and to have trouble concentrating on tasks that they are performing. A study in 1993 found that people who have ADHD have a four times greater chance of being involved in car accidents. However, that study looked at drivers as a whole. A more recent study compared teenage drivers who have ADHD with teenage drivers who do not have ADHD. It found that adolescent drivers with ADHD are 36% likelier to be involved in accidents than teenagers who do not have the disorder.
ADHD can also cause impulsivity, increased risk-taking behaviors, and poor judgment. In general, teenage drivers are already more easily distracted and are likely to overestimate their driving skills than older drivers. When teenage drivers have ADHD, these characteristics can be exacerbated and increase their accident risks.
Reducing Accident Risks of Drivers With ADHD
Teenage and adult drivers with ADHD can take several steps to reduce the risk of accidents. Incorporating driving skills into the treatment of ADHD is important for teens. Driving rehabilitation specialists can work with teens who have ADHD to help them to become more aware of their actual driving skills to prevent overestimation of their abilities.
Drivers should minimize anything that could distract them from their vehicles. People should turn their cell phones off when they drive to prevent distraction from incoming calls or text messages. They should also make sure that they know the state’s traffic laws, including properly using turn signals and making lane changes. Drivers with ADHD should pay attention to posted speed limits and follow them at all times. For teenagers, taking a driver’s education course that includes information about ADHD and driving can help them to become better, more alert drivers.