For even the most experienced driver, distractions by billboards, other drivers, music, food and beverages, passengers, and cellphones are everyday occurrences that can only serve to increase the risk of serious accidents. Now add to this mix a diagnosis of ADHD, and you have compounded the problem to a degree that demands our attention.
According to 2009 data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
- ADHD teen drivers are seven times as likely to have been in 2 or more accidents.
- ADHD teen drivers are two times as likely to have a speeding ticket.
- ADHD teen drivers are five times as likely to have a traffic citation.
- ADHD teen drivers are four times as likely to have been in an injury accident.
- ADHD teen drivers are four times as likely to have been at fault for the accident they were in.
- Serious injury or death of their child,
- Property damage,
- Higher health care costs,
- More involvement with legal and liability issues, and
- Higher motor vehicle insurance rates.
Most states now have in place certain limitations on young drivers, and it is essential that parents and teens know the law in their state and surrounding states. These restrictions typically relate to hours when driving is not permitted, or whether underage passengers may be present without an adult in the car. Absent in these restrictions are guidelines and rules for parents on how to assure safe driving for teenagers with ADHD. Dr. Russell Barkley, renowned expert on ADHD affirms that one of these rules is that the teen will take medication as prescribed before driving, as medication is the only treatment known to improve driving behavior for those affected by ADHD. Other rules include keeping the radio low and absolutely disallowing the use of cell phones (especially texting) while driving. Barkley also suggests teens maintain a driving log, including when medication was taken, where the driver went and how far she drove, contact numbers for where the teen would be and when the car left and returned to the family residence. Parents should check the log regularly; privileges might be awarded or removed based on the log’s information.
On this topic, CHADD recommends that teens who abide by these rules should see their driving privileges increase every six months, while teens who have difficulty following these rules can see those privileges cut back or suspended until they display more maturity and compliance. It is better and less expensive to have driving privileges suspended by a parent than by a judge. Careful planning, drivers’ education and a gradual increase in privileges that correspond with improved skills benefits teen drivers and can help make driving a better experience for them and their parents.
Without a proper diagnosis, appropriate treatment is impossible. Schedule an appointment with a Portrait Health Centers' doctor by calling (847) 868-3435 or simply click below: