10 Safe Driving Tips

10 Safe Driving Tips

For parents with young people with ADHD

This has been produced to assist you, and the young people you care for who have ADHD, to drive safely and to reduce the risk of them having a collision whilst driving a car.

Some facts about ADHD and driving

We were once asked to explain the links between ADHD and poor driving outcomes / collisions. After giving it a moment of thought the answer was:

  • Imagine someone who has compromised concentration skills
  • Add to that their inherent desire and capability act impulsively
  • Now mix in a bit of hyperactivity, whether of the mind or the body
  • Then put them behind the wheel of a half-ton, metal machine capable of 70MPH+

The links couldn’t be clearer.

But the statistics make interesting reading also:
People with untreated or poorly managed ADHD are 4 times more likely to have a car crash, and those crashes are 7 times more likely to be serious and suffer serious injuries than for people without ADHD. As a comparison, those are the same statistics that caused the UK Government to ban driving whilst using a mobile phone. To help our patients better understand and reduce their ADHD related driving risks we put together this short leaflet. There are ten simple bullet points which, if adhered to, will make your driving experience easier, safer and more rewarding. ADHD 360 are indebted to Sgt. Steve Brown (retired) of the Lancashire Constabulary who is a co-author of this paper with our own Phil Anderton, and to Marlene Snyder (Whitefish USA) whose advice and thoughts continue to provide a guiding light on this subject.

So here are the Safe Driving Tips

Your children and passengers in your car have observed your driving. They have watched your every action. Is your driving good enough to be a role model? Do you use your mobile phone while driving? Do you speed excessively? Would you be comfortable if your teenager drove as you do?

Young people with ADHD are often emotionally and functionally immature when compared to others the same age. Teenagers with ADHD, therefore, may take significantly longer to develop good judgement and a mature attitude to driving. Teenagers who have explosive tempers, are uncooperative or cannot meet their current responsibilities, are not ready to drive.

This will ensure that the learner driver is aware of the rules of the road before they begin driving. They will also understand why these are the rules they are expected to obey. Use an app on a smartphone to cement their learning rather than expecting them to read the Highway Code as a book.

Learning to drive safely is serious. When this is made more difficult due to ADHD, the parents and the young learner driver must make efforts to understand these complications, and work to minimise the risks involved.

When giving private driving lessons, ensure that the lesson has been prepared beforehand. Ensure the instructor has the route planned and allotted a timescale to the lesson.

The learner driver should also be prepared by ensuring they have taken any prescribed medication and are in a suitable mental and emotional condition to concentrate.

If neither of these are in place, cancel the lesson.

Research has shown that ADHD behaviours can be significantly improved with medication use. Some of the known benefits include an increase in attention span and concentration. Individuals who have been prescribed medication should only drive within the time limits of the particular medication they are taking. Do you know what they are for your child’s medication?

Parents of children with ADHD often use incentives to encourage their children to complete a particular task. Driving is no different. Some parents also state that driving is a powerful incentive to encourage everyday behaviour. Encourage your young person to work for the privilege of driving and the responsibility attached to it, by developing a reward system.

It’s common to underestimate the time needed to teach an individual to drive. A learner driver with ADHD may take at least 3 times longer to learn to drive. You should keep a log of hours and driving skills demonstrated during the lessons. This will enable you to check on progress and chart consistent faults. It will also allow the instructor to identify times of the day when the driver with ADHD performs badly and provide lessons at a more appropriate time.

When considering whether to allow their child to drive, parents should discuss the fact that they should not eat, drink, smoke or use their mobile telephone. If they don’t recognise this, they should not be driving.

Having passed their test, the new driver is ready to drive a car without adult supervision. Some new rules should be established before they drive alone:

  • Consider curfew times for weekdays and weekends in line with medication.
  • Discuss what times of the day they can drive

  • Discuss the consequences of an accident
  • Restrict passengers, totally if possible
  • Keep a record of the person’s driving
  • Ensure they know what to do in an emergency
  • Set rules for the use of the family car
  • Include rewards for compliance
  • Enforce no drink driving rules
  • Determine who pays for petrol, insurance and fixed penalty tickets

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