Helping ADHD Teens To Learn To Drive Responsibly
By Robert Locke MBE
It is quite a challenge to allow a teen to drive at all as we always worry about their inexperience and their impulsivity. Those problems are multiplied when our teens have ADHD so we should make sure that there are certain rules in place before we allow them out on the road after they have passed their driving test.
Figures speak for themselves
The figures show that teens and young people with ADHD are up to four times more likely to have an accident than normal teens. In fact, they have estimated also that a teen with ADHD is actually more dangerous on the road than a driver who is under the influence of alcohol!
The problem of drunken driving is also a problem because the University of Pittsburgh studies show that about 15% of ADHD teens have alcohol related problems compared to about 5% of normal teenagers.
As we can see, the problems of impulsivity and distraction are always a risk so we have to take this into account in setting the ground rules before leaving the teen to actually drive the family car. We also have to bear in mind that making decisions and also staying focused are key abilities. Here are seven ways that we can help them to be more responsible for their actions and also to help them drive more safely.
The 7 keys to safer teenage driving
- Bear in mind that an ADHD teenager may have to wait a few more years than his peers before learning to drive. The fact is that the more mature a teen is, the less chance there is of an accident happening. You could also keep in mind their record in riding a bike and whether they have had accidents. If your teen also suffers from ODD; it may be wise not to let him start driving as aggression and defiance are not a great mix when behind the wheel.
- When driving, ask your teen to analyse different accident scenarios and also to criticize your driving. This should appeal to some teenagers but the real value is trying to get them to develop good road sense. It is also a good opportunity of putting the theory into practice.
- Make sure that the effects of ADHD medication have not worn off by the time the teen goes out on his or her drive. The fact is that the meds will help to keep attention levels high so we should always keep this in mind. Although some meds can be effective for up to twelve hours, we should double check, just in case. There is an added risk in that most teenagers tend to drive very late or at weekends when they are less likely to be on the meds.
- Do not be afraid or hesitant about drawing up a contract as that will help to put things on a firmer footing. You can insist on things like no cell phones, no loud crazy music, and of course no alcohol.
- Encourage proper planning so that there is no mad rush to get to a place pr appointment on time. Help the teen to take into account road conditions, weather, sporting events and other things that affect traffic. The same goes for planning the route and getting a printout of a map rather than relying on GPS which will just be another distraction.
- If you are helping your teenager with his or her 50hours of practice driving, you may want to think about adding in an extra brake on the passenger side. That could save you a hefty repair bill if there was an accident.
Last but not least, you have the final say so if you find that the rules have not been followed, impose a ban. On the other hand, if the teenager is driving safely and has an accident free record, then you may want to extend the time he can use the car. This is also written into the contract.
It is essential for our teen’s safety and everybody else on the road that we take responsible action so that lives are protected. It is a great responsibility and we should make sure that our teen is keenly aware of the implications of careless or distracted driving and poor decision making.
About the Author:
Robert Locke MBE is a health enthusiast specializing in children’s health and has written extensively on ADHD, parenting, mental health, anxiety and depression.
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