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ADHD Behind the Wheel: New Study Finds Added Risk for ADHD Teen Drivers

ADHD Behind the Wheel: New Study Finds Added Risk for ADHD Teen Drivers

Seeing your teenager behind the wheel of a car for the first time can be a frightening experience for many parents. But for parents of teens with Attention Deficit with Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) there may be even more to worry about when it comes time to hand over the car keys. A new study suggests teens with ADHD have a substantially higher risk of being involved in a car accident than teens who do not have the disorder.

CNN reports about the study published in JAMA Pediatrics that found teens with ADHD are at a 36% increased risk of being in car accident. Studies in the past have found increased risk of accidents within this population, but this new study appears to be one of the most reliable as it looked at much larger group of 18,500 health records.

Some of the symptoms of ADHD that may affect the way a teen drives are reacting impulsively, inability to focus and general hyperactive behaviors. Studies have found that teens who are using medication for ADHD have a lower chance of being in a car accident, but only about 12% of teens with ADHD take medication for the disorder.

The study found that parents and teens may already be taking a proactive role in reducing the chance of accidents as many of these ADHD teens wait until they are a little older to get their license. Co-author of the study, Thomas Powers, explains that though the study warrants some extra thought for parents with kids who have ADHD - it should not cause a panic. Powers says, “The presence of ADHD among young drivers warrants concern. But the findings suggest that, as a general rule, we shouldn't be extremely concerned or fearful for allowing these youths to drive.”

Long distance and highway driving appear to put teens with ADHD most at risk of accidents. This type of driving allows for the most distractions among this group and may lead to impulsive behaviors. Though Powers does not believe there should be special driving laws or regulations put in place for teens with ADHD, he feels that parents and teens need to work together to stay as safe as possible on the road. Powers explains, “The first stage is to make sure the youth has sufficiently strong communication skills, problem-solving skills, decision-making ability, judgment and level of responsibility, in order to advance to the learning-to-drive stage.”

What do you think of the new study that suggests teens with ADHD are at greater risk of car accidents?

How do you think parents and teens with ADHD should prepare for getting behind the wheel?

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  • By KasperGrl
    06.17.17  

    My sister was diagnosed with ADHD years ago (when she was a teenager) and she definitely made me nervous when she was behind the wheel. She was really bad to text while driving! Fortunately, she hasn't ever been in an accident from doing this. I would recommend making these teens drive stick shifts because that helped my sister kick the bad habit of texting and driving since she had to be more focused.

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