ADHD Symptoms May Be Linked to Poor Driving Skills in Teens

Posted on April 3, 2018

Researchers from Penn Medicine, the Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP) at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), and Utah State University searched for associations between teens' mistakes while driving and self-reported symptoms of ADHD and other mental-health disorders. This is in light of past research showing that teen drivers (aged 16-19) have triple the risk of being in a fatal car accident compared to older drivers, and that around 20% of teens in this age group are affected by symptoms of a mental health disorder, and 9% have a lifetime history of ADHD.

The study involved 16- and 17-year olds in Pennsylvania who recently earned their drivers' licenses, and all participants went through a series of questions. These questionnaires served the two purposes: first was to see if the teens met the threshold criteria for any mental health issues (depression, ADHD, conduct disorder etc.), second was to find out more about their driving behaviors. Parents also assessed their child for ADHD symptoms and other mental health problems.

Following this, all participants underwent an assessment in the driving simulator at CIRP, where they were exposed to 21 different crash scenarios which were avoidable if they had driven safely. A positive correlation was drawn between the number of inattention symptoms reported and the mistakes made in the driving simulator. This opens up an avenue for therapists to talk with teens and their parents regarding how the child's mental health may affect his or her driving behavior.

Category(s):Adult ADHD

Source material from PsychCentral

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