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Numerous studies have shown drivers with untreated ADHD are more at risk than their ‘non-ADD’ peers. One study found ADDers were 7 times more likely to be in multiple vehicle accidents where they are at fault. Dr. Laurence Jerome, a clinician and ADHD researcher, talks about the challenges of staying in your lane when you have a mind that wanders.

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ADHD and Driving Risk

Some young people with ADHD are very interested in the extreme sports, which puts them contextually at high-risk. Driving isn’t an extreme sport but there’s a number of scenarios both short-term driving and long-term driving that can create problems I think for adults with ADHD. When they do have problems with their driving they like to drive fast. Exactly why that is is unclear but I think generally the speed gets them in their zone. We all need to get in our zone when we’re driving but if you have ADHD and you tend to be a little under-stimulated, the speed actually seems to get you in your attention zone and you wake up better. The problem is you’re going faster than the speed limit and you still have a wandering attention. That means that if something comes up and unexpectedly. Your braking times a bit longer.
So high speed and distractibility and slow relatively slow braking is a recipe for motor vehicle collision. I think going fast by itself is not it doesn’t correlate with ADHD. It probably correlates with a temperamental characteristic that Hans Eysenck described, Hans Eysenck a psychologist from England. He called it’s adventuresome. Adventuresomeness I think he was the technical term. So people who like to take some risks but it can be a calculated risk. So some people if you look at risk takers as a group I think you’ve got people who might have ADHD but you’ve got some people who take calculated risks and like speed but don’t have accidents they plan it out and they go ahead safely.
So people who might drive race cars for a living or fly planes very fast might be fine might not have ADHD. I think the bottom line is do they have accidents?
When they start to have accidents then then I think your index of suspicion goes up. Interestingly there’s a psychologist who’s done a lot of the driving research on simulators.. driving simulators. Dan Cox in the states, and he’s found that on simulators people with ADHD will have less accidents and less errors on simulators if they use a manual gearshift. The actual physical involvement was shifting that gear seems to help them focus as opposed to an automatic gear change. So that looks like a useful piece of advice, use a manual gearshift for that at least for the first few years.

Driving Distractions

Another obvious one is not to use cell phones or other distracting sounds in the car.  Not to have too many people in the car talking at you, from behind or at the side. I would emphasize that you have to take everybody as an individual not everybody with ADHD is a bad driver I’ve met some who are excellent, who are actually driving instructors. One of the things I like to try and discuss with families with young drivers is let them know about the potential increased risk so I want to get their input as parents or with an adult who might be married who’s been driving. If you’re a young person starting to drive I think it’s important to get feedback from a driving instructor.
(Rick Green) Thanks for watching and I want to give a huge shout out (YELLS) well I guess no you don’t actually have to shout, I wanted to thank all of our
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