How ADHD Increases Your Risk of an Auto Accident and What to Do About It
A recent JAMA Psychiatry article reported on new research that confirms what many people already suspected about drivers who have ADHD. Having attention deficit – hyperactivity disorder does increase your likelihood of being in an auto accident. That doesn’t necessarily mean that having ADHD means that your accident was your fault, though it may have contributed to being unable to avoid an accident caused by another driver.
Having said that, having ADHD does also increase your risk of being the cause of the accident as well. The new study revealed that drivers who suffer from ADHD are actually 50% more likely than the rest of the population to end up in an auto accident. The reason for this, if you have ADHD or know someone who does, is probably quite clear. For others, it is important to be aware that ADHD causes symptoms such as inattentiveness, impulsiveness, and distractibility. Naturally, these are all symptoms that could lead to an accident.
Teen Drivers with ADHD are at Greatest Risk for Auto Accidents
Teen drivers are already at an increased risk of being in an auto accident, just for their lack of experience on the road. When you include ADHD into their risk factors, this can be quite alarming, especially when you find out that any driver with ADHD has a 50% greater likelihood of being in an auto accident, at any age.
If you are the parent of a teen with ADHD, you already know how difficult it can be for him or her to function in day-to-day life with the symptoms of this disorder. Thus, you might not be surprised to find out that some studies have indicated that driving with ADHD symptoms, untreated, can be as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. Then, you add in the common distractions of the modern age we live in, like cell phones, texting, navigation systems, and the age old distractions of having other passengers in the car, and you might be quite terrified of seeing your own teen with ADHD behind the wheel.
Following are some of the risk factors and how they relate to the increased likelihood of your teen with ADHD being involved in a serious auto accident:
Distractibility – An adult or teen with ADHD is more easily distracted by passengers, other vehicles, music, daydreams, and is at greater risk for technology distractions.
Inattention – An adult or teen with ADHD may struggle to pay attention to everything that is going on around his or her vehicle. This can result in failing to obey traffic laws, failing to yield the right of way to others, and failing to respond to changes in traffic.
Impulsivity – An adult or teen with ADHD is more likely to take risks, to over-estimate their driving abilities, and to speed or drive recklessly. If your teen gets his or her license suspended or revoked, he or she is more likely to drive anyway, creating further risk.
Fortunately, this is not a hopeless situation for those with ADHD, and there is a lot that you can do to minimize your risk of an auto accident and avoid becoming a statistic.
How to Reduce Auto Accident Risk for Adults and Teens with ADHD
Adults and teens with ADHD have a few different ways of minimizing their risks of getting into auto accidents. If you are a parent of a teen driver with ADHD, it is essential to have a serious conversation with your child about the risks associated with their ADHD and driving and the following tips that will help him or her to avoid accidents.
Take Your Medication Regularly – If you or your teen is taking medication for ADHD, it is important to stay on top of it. Avoid missing doses, and don’t drive without it. Medication can make a huge difference in minimizing how distractible, inattentive, and impulsive a person with ADHD may be while driving.
Avoid Distractions in the Vehicle – There are many ways to avoid distractions while driving, and everyone should, though this is especially important for those with ADHD. Don’t talk on the phone, don’t text, don’t eat, and don’t put on makeup or fix your hair. Inform passengers, that you need to focus and minimize conversation. Avoid messing with the radio or navigation systems while driving. If you must do something that might distract you from the road, pull over and be safe.
Make Use of Verbal Navigation Systems – While a navigation system can be a distraction, it can also be a life saver if used correctly. Program it while the vehicle is parked, then use verbal and hands free navigation systems so that you can listen to the directions instead of trying to view them while you are driving.
Legal Advice for North Carolina Auto Accident Victims
If you or your teen with ADHD has been in an auto accident for which you are not at fault, contact Brown, Moore & Associates, PLLC for a free consultation. We can protect your rights and help you through the difficult process of recovering after an auto accident.