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Drivers with ADHD in Higher Risk Category Than Their Counterparts

Steve Wagner


  • People with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) typically overlook or miss details, and often make careless mistakes during everyday activities like – operating a motor vehicle.
  • Symptoms related to ADHD, including poor judgment, risk-taking and thrill-seeking tendencies, and all contribute to an increased risk of being at fault in an accident and causing injury to themselves and others.
  • Teen drivers with ADHD tend to be at greater risk for having accidents, receiving traffic tickets, and driving without a license.
  • Distractions from the car radio or using technology, primping, drinking, eating, and talking with another person in the car as major hazards for a teen driver who has been diagnosed with ADHD.

Teens Drivers with ADHD Place High in Driver Risk Category

Most people with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have challenges with inattentiveness and distractibility and often make careless mistakes during everyday activities like – operating a motor vehicle. Teen drivers with ADHD tend to generally be at a much greater risk for having accidents because of their difficulties in function related to ADHD, like having poor judgment, risk-taking and thrill-seeking tendencies. These also all contribute to an increased risk of being at fault of an accident or injury to themselves and others. In fact, road safety and health officials agree that the untreated symptoms of ADHD in young drivers can resemble those involved in drunk driving accidents. Inattention can lead to distraction and impulsivity can lead to poor reactions to other drivers or traffic conditions.

Top 3 Driving Concerns for Teens With ADHD

  1. Risky Driving Behaviors: Teenagers may engage in risky driving behaviors like speeding, running red and yellow lights, running stop signs, tailgating, weaving in and out of traffic, not keeping a safe distance for merging or changing lanes, misjudging gaps in traffic and misjudging the capability of their vehicles.
  2. Distractions: Young drivers with ADHD are mostly impacted by distractions during periods of slow and dull driving. Music, cell phones, pets, and passengers are best left at home while a teen is learning to drive. Not only does it increase the risk of a crash dramatically, it is against the law for any driver under the age of 21 to use an electronic device while driving unless making a 911 emergency call.
  3. Driving Inexperience: Teenagers as a whole lack driving experience. Teens show the greatest improvement within the first year and 1,000 miles of driving. They continue to improve through their first 5,000 miles of driving.

Behavior Management Can Help

Young drivers affected by ADHD need to be especially aware of their own driving abilities as part of their behavioral management since it is proven that they have an increased risk in developing poor driving habits. They can improve driving skills and increase safety on the road by following these safe-driving tips from CHADD, The National Resource on ADHD.

  • Many new model cars have options that include heads-up display, texting and cellphone integration and steering wheel controls. Drivers with ADHD may want to pass up all of these options.
  • Reduce distractions in the car, including all electronics. This means turning cell-phones off completely, or otherwise disabling all notifications.
  • Know Indiana’s state traffic laws, including the correct use of turn signals/indicators, blinkers and speed zone requirements.
  • Attend and pass a driver education program that addresses ADHD concerns if necessary. Teenagers with learning disabilities should have more practice, even if it means keeping them in the learner permit stage longer than strictly necessary.
  • Work with a health-care provider to develop and follow an ADHD treatment plan. Consider the role medication has been shown to play in improved driving ability.

Practice Good Driving

If your teen has been involved in an accident that resulted in their injury or death, Wagner Reese’s Indianapolis injury lawyers can assist you in recovering compensation for their injuries. The auto accident attorneys at Wagner Reese have spent decades working on cases like these for young people and their families. Give us a call today at (888) 204-8440 to schedule a free consultation or speak with us by submitting our online form and our attorneys will review your information.


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