The connection between ADHD drivers and car crashes
Updated: May 31, 2018
Because ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, impulsiveness, or a combination, it is believed that those driving with this condition can cause them to make careless mistakes.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, about 60% of children with ADHD become adults with ADHD. That translates into 8 million adults with the condition.
Recently, Zeng Chang, lead researcher in the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Karolinska Institute in Sweden said in a CNN article, ‘"Core symptoms of ADHD (e.g., inattention and impulsivity) may interfere with the competencies necessary to drive safely, predisposing those with the disorder to greater risk for accidents and injuries."
Chang and his co-authors believe that that up to 22.1% of car wrecks may have been avoided if the patients with ADHD had received proper medication. However, those ADHD drivers who are medicated show dramatically reduced rates of car accidents. Moreover, behavioral therapy shows that ADHD drivers can improve their driving skills through awareness of the mistakes made by other ADHD sufferers.
Most common types of driving mistakes made by ADHD drivers
Here are the driving mistakes made by ADHD drivers that other ADHD drivers can learn from.
Distracted driving: Slow and boring driving tends to distract ADHD drivers. The need for stimulation during these times translates into such distracted driving activities as changing radio stations, using their smartphones, fixing their hair, putting on make-up, drinking, eating, etc., all to alleviate boredom.
Hyper-focusing: Many with ADHD focus so intently on one thing that they don’t stay alert to what is happening around them. This focus can make them miss warning signs, school crossing signs, reduced speed warnings, and someone stopping suddenly in front of them.
Impulsive driving behaviors: Some experts believe that any impulsive or distracted driver can be just as dangerous as a driver under the influence of drugs or alcohol. ADHD drivers showing these tendencies can become quickly frustrated and exhibit impulsive, dangerous driving behaviors, such as sudden turns, aggressive passing, and running a red light.
Speeding and reckless driving: ADHD drivers can be inattentive about speed limits and driving conditions. A driver with ADHD has to work much harder at staying within the speed limit and noting any changes in the speed limit, or road conditions requiring speed changes (accidents, weather conditions, traffic back-ups).
Other driving errors: Other errors cited in research include not coming to a complete stop at a light or stop sign, difficulty changing lanes and then committing to that decision, impatience or confusion at four-way stop signs, agitation at freeway or lane merging, improper lane changes, braking too fast, and following too closely.
Unfortunately, the mistakes outlined above include rash or poor judgment and risk-taking that can contribute to an increased possibility of causing a car accident. Nonetheless, such errors can be avoided by ADHD suffers taking the proper medications, receiving psychosocial treatments such as behavior therapy, and by being aware of the need to be extra cautious.
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