Driving and ADHD – Top Tips for Safe Driving

Best practices for safe driving include following the rules of the road and paying careful attention while driving. Driving is a complex task, and becoming distracted, even for a split second, can cause an accident that results in catastrophic injuries  such as severe traumatic brain injury, quadriplegia or paraplegia, severe orthopedic injury, or amputation. Adults and teens with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (“ADHD”) may face challenges in following best driving practices as one of the primary cognitive functions that may be affected by ADHD is the ability to sustain attention, particularly when performing demanding cognitive tasks such as operating a motor vehicle. Some research suggests that drivers with ADHD have higher rates of traffic citations, licence revocations or suspensions, are more likely to drive without a licence, and are at a higher risk for car accidents.  This post will discuss how ADHD may affect driving and provide tips for safe driving and avoiding car accidents.

How ADHD may affect safe driving

Inattention and difficulty staying focussed on a task are two main symptoms of ADHD that can hinder safe driving. For example, a driver with ADHD may take their eyes off the road due to being more easily distracted by extraneous stimuli or may make careless mistakes while driving due to failure to pay close attention to surroundings.  Determining Driver Fitness in Canada – CCMTA Drivers with ADHD may also experience difficulties with planning and forethought, problem solving, and response inhibition.

An individual with ADHD may have trouble waiting for his or her turn; this could lead to accidents at intersections where it is essential to follow the rules of the road with respect to giving the right of way. For teen drivers in particular, ADHD is associated with impulsivity, risk-taking tendencies, acting before thinking, and thrill-seeking, all of which are behaviours that can increase the risk of a car accident.

Tips for avoiding car accidents

An individual who is being treated with medication for ADHD should follow their doctor’s advice and take the prescribed dose regularly. The effect of ADHD medication on driving performance is unclear because of the limitations of Canadian research to date,  Determining Driver Fitness in Canada – CCMTA>but there is US research which suggests that proper medication use can reduce the risk of car crashes by drivers with ADHD. This makes intrinsic sense – if the medication allows the individual to maintain their best focus, it should in turn enhance their driving performance. In addition to regular use of medication if prescribed by a doctor, some tips for safe driving and avoiding car accidents that may benefit drivers with ADHD include:

  • Eliminating distractions from cell phones, GPS systems, or other electronic devices;
  • Reducing excessive background noise such as music while driving;
  • Limiting the number of passengers in the vehicle;
  • Planning routes to avoid getting lost ;
  • Leaving in enough time to avoid having to rush; and
  • Avoiding driving when tired.

As with any motor vehicle accidents, if you have been hurt it is advisable that you speak to a personal injury lawyer  to discuss your options.  The lawyers at Simpson, Thomas & Associates offer free initial consultations in Surrey/Delta, Vancouver, Burnaby and Abbotsford.  If you are facing mobility issues our lawyers will come to you.

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