Are teens with ADD/ADHD More Prone to Traffic Violations and Car Accidents?

September 10, 2019

Not surprisingly, the risk of motor vehicle crashes for teenagers is higher than any other age group. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, per mile driven, teen drivers are nearly three times more likely than drivers aged 20 and older to be in a fatal crash.

However, according to a recent study by the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) published in the journal Pediatrics, teen drivers diagnosed with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are significantly more likely to be involved in a crash, be issued violations, and engage in risky driving behaviors than their peers without ADHD. 

The study found teens with ADHD have a 62 percent higher crash risk in the first month after getting licensed. Experience helps, but even within the first four years of having their license, their crash risk remains 37 percent higher than their peers.

The study researchers acknowledge additional research is needed to understand how the symptoms of ADHD influence crash risk. They suggest specific skills training and behavioral interventions should be developed to reduce the risk for newly licensed drivers with ADHD.

What can you do in the meantime if you have a new driver with ADHD? 

The good news is teens with ADHD can become good drivers. However, do not expect it to come easily or quickly. You may want to seriously consider if your child might be better off waiting until they are older to start driving. 

The first step is to schedule a visit with your teen's doctor and psychologist. They will be able to provide some guidance and recommendations on whether your child is at higher risk, along with treatment and therapies to help focus attention.

Second, seek professional driving instruction from a school specializing in training drivers with ADD/ADHD. Be prepared to take as much time as needed for your teen to develop competency and confidence before you send them off on their own.  

Finally, once your teen with ADHD is driving, be sure to prepare a contract on safe driving practices and expectations. Be sure to set limits on who can ride along (although limiting passengers and any other distraction is strongly recommended until experience is built up). Require them to let you know where they are going, what time of day they are allowed to drive, and what is a permittable distance from home. Emphasize cellphone use while driving is never acceptable.

Many of these restrictions can be relaxed over time as confidence is built up, and as your teen gains the maturity and demonstrated competence to be a safe driver. 

Request an Appointment

We combine state-of-the-art technology with the extensive hands-on experience of a board certified, licensed psychologist who specializes in treating children and adults with ADD/ADHD.
You wouldn't trust your physical health to an unlicensed doctor without a clinical background and specialized training, so why do it with your mental health?

What Our Patients Say

I would like to thank you for all the help my son has received from your program. Since he has started your program I noticed a difference in his behavior from the start. I has continued to improve as he moved through the program... Our lives are all better because of the help he has received from your program. I would highly recommend this program to anyone with ADD.

— Ellen, mother of 12 year-old boy with ADD

Copyright © 2006 - 2019 Center for Attention and Deficit Learning Disorders. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Use