It's a risky business when teens start driving, and if you compound teen drivers who have ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), then the risk skyrockets. Teens with ADHD are four times more likely to be in an automobile-related accident and suffer injuries. Due to their inability to sustain focus, combined with their impulsive nature, teenagers who have ADHD are much more likely to cause or unable to avoid an accident.
These tips are designed to assist your ADHD teen in becoming a more skilled, focused, and ultimately, a safer driver:
1. Research and find the best driving program.
Check with your child's school counselors or their therapist to see if there is a drivers' education program, specifically designed for teens with ADHD challenges and other learning disorders. Behavioral researchers are working to develop training programs that are specialized and include at least one of the following:
- Extra time spent using driving simulators that are interactive. This learning phase could help greatly in improving your teenager's performance behind the wheel of a real vehicle. Studies are frequently being conducted to see if simulators that can accommodate the student-driver and an adult will assist in improving the driving skills of teens with ADHD.
- Developing a safe-driver checklist for your teen to review and memorize. It should include all of the safety tasks that become habitual for non-ADHD drivers, such as putting on their seat belt and checking rearview mirrors.
- Hazard-perception intervention training. An ADHD study showed that male ADHD students who received this specialized traffic hazard training improved their response times to hazards on the road.
2. Gradually teach them to drive.
In order to earn your driver's license, a lot of states require that you first enter a graduated, multiphase training program. This means that individuals must take and pass the first level of testing before moving on to the second level. It would be a good idea that if your teen barely passes a level of driver's education, or does poorly, then you should insist that they repeat that section of the class before they proceed to the next level.
"It's always important to talk to your kids about different scenarios that might present, including driving in construction areas, how to handle aggressive or road rage drivers, and getting lost," said Jason Martin, injury prevention coordinator at Swedish Medical Center [https://swedishhospital.com/]. "Also, it's important to provide your teenager a lot of extra practice driving in the rain, at night, and on highways that might be unique to their home like multiple one-way streets."
3. Be involved in the learning process with your teen.
You should take a hands-on approach in regards to your teenager's driving. You should regularly monitor their progress to include ride-along trips, supervised regularly scheduled practice sessions (during driver's education and even AFTER they have earned their license. It's always a good idea to keep tabs on the skills they possess behind the wheel.
4. Practice proactive communication.
Make time on a regular basis to have a one-on-one with your teen to see how they feel their driving abilities are progressing. Driving logs that include near wrecks or errors in driving is a good way to help your teen become a more skilled driver. Follow-up with them to ensure they are following your safe-driver checklist. It's also a good idea to over the rules of the road information that they need to know before they passed their exam.
5. Help them keep track their medications.
Should your teen benefit from doctor-prescribed medications, help monitor their intake. Take notice while on ride-along trips to see how the medication may be affecting their ability to react to driving. If you have concerns, then work with your teenager's healthcare professionals to make adjustments. This may involve trial and error, so keep helping them monitor the situation and be patient. While everyone is unique, some research suggests that psychostimulant medications may significantly improve the driving performance of both adults and teens with ADHD challenges.
6. Keep distractions while driving to a minimum.
Talking, texting, etc, on a cell phone, or messing with any other electronic device (iPod, radio, etc.), drinking or eating, loud music or passengers can be very dangerous distractions. Be sure to establish very clear rules for phones, other electronic devices, food and drink, number of people in the car, or any other potential distraction. Music should be selected before driving begins with a predetermined maximum volume.