While teens consider a driver’s license a big step toward adulthood and freedom, parents often have the opposite reaction. They worry about their child’s safety and ability to handle driving. If the child has attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a parent may have additional reasons to be concerned.
The symptoms of ADHD—hyperactivity, irritability, impulsiveness, poor concentration, and distractibility—increase the risk of unsafe driving behavior and of becoming an accident victim. According to a 2007 study, teens with ADHD have two to four times the accident risk of other novice drivers. In fact, a teen with ADHD has a higher crash risk than an adult who is legally drunk.
A teen with ADHD can become a safe driver, but he may not be ready at the same time as his peers. Parents of teens with ADHD should consider the child’s abilities rather than age when determining if he is ready to drive.
Three Things to Consider Before Allowing a Teen With ADHD to Drive
- Does your teen use good judgment at home, at school, and with friends?
- Is your teen able to handle constructive criticism?
- Will you be able to provide a minimum of 65 hours of supervised practice driving before your teen takes his road test?
If you answered “yes” to all three questions, your teen may be ready to drive. The following tips will help your teen become a safe driver:
- Discuss driving with your teen’s doctor. The doctor may recommend medication to improve focus.
- Find out how your teen’s medications will affect his driving ability. Some medications are most effective earlier in the day and may leave your child easily distracted in the afternoon.
- Discuss the licensing process with your teen. Explain that he will need lessons and a minimum of 65 hours of supervised practice. Tell him that he must show both maturity and skill before you will allow him to take the road test. Be prepared for your teen to need more than 65 hours of driving practice.
- Consider hiring a driving instructor for your teen. This can reduce frustration for both you and your child.
- Create a driving privileges plan. When your child first gets his license, allow him to drive only on local roads and only during daylight hours. Do not allow passengers. Expand his privileges as he gains skills. Remove privileges when needed. Put the plan in writing.
Being involved will help reduce your teen’s accident risk, but it won’t prevent every possible crash. Make sure your teen knows what to do if an accident occurs. Call 800-800-5678 to request your free copy of The Ultimate Guide for Automobile Accident Victims. This booklet will tell your teen exactly what to do to protect his safety and his rights after a wreck.