Drivers with ADHD at Higher Risk of Accidents

April 24, 2012 by Gregory J. Brod

Drivers tend to be wary of teenage drivers, who are four times more likely to get into an accident than drivers 20 years and older. Teenage drivers are more accident prone because, in general they take more risks, have less experience with driving, and are more distracted by their passengers.

Another group of drivers fall into this category as well: drivers of all ages with ADHD. Drivers who live with ADHD are also more likely to be distracted by noisy passengers, radios, cell phones and even day dreaming. SF Gate reported recently that ADHD drivers struggle with attentiveness, which makes them less likely to identify and react to dangers on the roads. ADHD drivers are also susceptible to impulsive or aggressive behavior off and on the road. Teenagers with ADHD are four times more likely than their peers to get into an accident and seven times more likely to get into a second accident.

The combination of a teenage driver and a driver with ADHD is unnerving, and in any case, driving safely will continue to be a struggle into adulthood. Drivers with ADHD often have many minor accidents in their driving career. Yet, ADHD drivers can improve their driving skills by coming up with strategies to stay focused on the road.

Parents of children with ADHD should set down guidelines to help their child become a safer driver. Life with ADHD is different for every child, so parents may want to observe their child while driving to become more aware of what presents the biggest distractions. Parents may also observe their child to see if their child exhibits any sort of impulsive behavior behind the wheel. Additionally, the 2006 study “Manual transmission enhances attention and driving performance of ADHD adolescent males: pilot study” reported that the male teenagers observed benefitted from driving a car with a manual transmission. Apparently, the focus needed to prevent grinding gears or sputtering forced the drivers to pay more attention. The teenagers also felt more in tune with the car. Of course, some may find the focus needed to shift the gears distracts from what’s going on around them on the road. Once again, each person experiences ADHD differently.

Finally, ADHD experts suggest that drivers of all ages plan out their route beforehand and leave plenty of time to make it to their destination, to avoid making impulsive U-turns or falling into other aggressive behaviors when lost.

The number of children diagnosed with ADHD has increased by 66% in the last ten years, according to a study cited on Science Daily. With more children and adults alike being diagnosed with ADD and ADHD, drivers should take notice. You cannot infer from looking at a car’s driver how the driver may respond to a dangerous situation, which is why it is important to always drive defensively.

Greg Brod is a personal injury lawyer, practicing in the San Francisco Bay Area. If you have been hurt in a car, bike, or pedestrian accident, please call today for a free consultation.