Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Study Shows Risks for Teen Drivers with ADHD

According to an article from Consumer Reports, teenagers with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have difficulty concentrating, which can mean trouble when they take the wheels of the family car, says Greg Fabiano, Ph.D., an associate professor at the University of Buffalo who is conducting ongoing research into ADHD driver safety.

In one study from 2008 on the impact of ADHD on drivers showed that people with ADHD who were sober performed as poorly on simulated driving tests as those motorists without ADHD who were legally drunk. Fabiano is focusing his research on teens, discovering the dangers that ADHD can present and also how parents can best help their kids learn to drive independently.

Fabiano's latest study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, focuses on two groups of teens with learners' permits. The first group receives additional drivers' education, including 3.5 hours in an advanced driving simulator and uses an in-car device that monitors the teen's driving behavior. The second receives the training and monitoring device, plus a contract with their parents that rewards good driving behavior and penalizes poor driving.

The study won't be completed for several more years. But Fabiano already has a couple of interesting findings:
  • Teens actually like the driving monitors, because they can demonstrate to their parents that they are following the rules.
  • Most of the teens think they can easily text while driving without any negative consequences. Yet, Fabiano says, "Texting while driving impairs driving to the extent where there are deviations in the lane, on the shoulder, people spinning out—they lose control." Any individual can drive as poorly as a drunk driver—or worse—while texting. Such a distraction would be especially hazardous for a person with ADHD.

Read the complete article.

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