Teenagers are four times more likely to get injured or die from driving related accidents than adults. The reasons are numerous, but pretty predictable: lack of experience, inability to assess danger, risky behavior due to peer pressure and hormones, alcohol, drugs. When you add a metal disorder such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, you get a very dangerous brew. Should teenagers with ADHD be driving?
Symptoms of ADHD
Kids and teenagers with ADHD have problem paying attention, they are often unable to control impulsive behaviors and in some cases, are hyper active. Many children and adolescents with ADHD are not diagnosed and their disorder is not treated. Those that are treated are often on various medications that have their own problems. But, the most important goal of all treatments of ADHD is to allow children and young adolescents to have as normal life as possible, including letting them to learn to drive.
Driving is often dangerous even in the best possible conditions but is particularly risky for teenagers. There are too many distractions, their mind is often on other things, they lack experience to deal with unexpected situations. Research shows that teenagers with ADHD are up to four times more likely to have an accident than their healthy peers. It does not mean that they cannot learn to become good drivers. But, like with all types of learning, teenagers with ADHD need more time and more patience.
Some studies show that some medications used for the treatment of ADHD work better in helping teenagers pay more attention. Some states use a graduated licensing system for young drivers, whether they have ADHD or not. They gradually learn about more challenging driving situations. The first kind of license they can get is learner’s permit ” “ they can drive only with an adult present in the car. Second type of license is intermediate or provisional license and the final is full license.
Like in all other situations, parents of teenagers with ADHD need to be actively involved to help their teenagers to understand rules and the reason why rules absolutely must be obeyed. The more practice they have driving with one parent present, the more confident drivers they will become. It is also up to the parents to see when their teenager should not be driving because his ADHD is not well controlled, and to act accordingly. The consequences of inaction in such cases can be deadly.
May 6 ” “ 12 is Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week. See what you can do to get involved.