How to Drive a Car | Teens with ADHD at Risk

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How to Drive a Car | Teens with ADHD at Risk

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is having difficulty concentrating.  Teens just learning to drive a car must be able to concentrate 100% of the time.  

Greg Fabiano, Ph.D., an associate professor at the University at Buffalo is conducting research into ADHD driver safety.  He is focusing his research on teens learning how to drive, discovering the dangers that ADHD can present and also how parents can best help their teens learn how to drive a car independently.

One study showed that people with ADHD performed as poorly on a simulated driving test as those who were legally drunk.  A recent study used two groups of teens who were learning to drive a car .  The first group received extra drivers' education, including 3.5 hours in an advanced driving simulator.  They also used a device that monitored the teen's behavior in their car.  The second group received the extra training and monitoring device.  However they also were asked to sign a contract with their parents that rewarded good driving behavior and penalized poor driving.

How to Drive a car | learning to drive a car | ADHD Teens
Researching Teens with ADHD

The study is still on-going but early findings indicate:

  • Teens learning how to drive a car like the driving monitors because they can show parents they are following the rules.
  • Most teens learning to drive a car think they can text while driving a car without any negative consequences. 
  • Texting while driving a car impairs driving so much that a car can deviate from the lane or go onto the shoulder where the driver can lose control
  • When texting, the driving performance of teens learning how to drive a car  is as bad or worse  than a drunk driver
  • A teen with ADHD who is learning to drive a car and texting is at a much greater risk of losing control of the car

Dr. Fabiano expects the findings will show that the contracts encourage communication between parents and teens learning how to drive a car.  This communication will improve teen behavior behind the wheel.   He also expects the findings will show that strategies  for teens with ADHD will also work with teens with other behavior issues.