ADHD & Driving: is it dangerous?
Are adults with ADHD bad drivers? What ADHD traits and symptoms impact our driving skills. Learn more about ADHD & Driving here.
Table of Contents
~ 1. ADHD & Driving: Is It Safe And Possible?
~ 2. The Complication Of Our Driving Skills
~ 3. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Symptoms That Affect Driving
~ 4. Prone To Road Rage And Reckless Driving: What Can We Do?
~ 5. We Don't Have Poor Driving Capabilities
~ 6. Driving Violation & Speeding Tickets Again?
~ 7. Preventing Accidents and Understanding Driving with Adult ADHD
~ ADHD & Driving FAQ
ADHD & Driving: Is It Safe And Possible?
Do you have a driver's license? How long did it take you to have a driver's license? Are you confident enough that you are driving safely? 🤔 How many tickets were issued to you because of your concerning driving behavior?
If you don't have a license, what's stopping you from getting one? Are you worried that your ADHD symptoms might interfere with your ability to drive, which may lead to accidents?
I receive many messages on our Instagram account asking about my capability to have driving privileges even though I have ADHD. For some people with the same neurodivergent disorder as mine, maintaining an outstanding driving performance can be quite a challenge, especially if we think about the significant consequences that may happen should we become careless. Apart from the traffic tickets and the amount of money we might spend paying fines 💰, serious accidents can be imminent if we don't properly manage our ADHD traits.
Let's try to understand what may be in store for us while driving. Having ADHD on the road doesn't just mean we need to obey traffic laws - it’s usually a lot more than that. And the responsibility we got with the permission to drive is no joke and should be taken seriously. In this ADHD article, we'll try to understand which ADHD symptoms are commonly responsible for getting us safely to our destination and what we can do to improve them.
The Complication Of Our Driving Skills
According to studies, drivers with childhood ADHD that persists into adulthood are nearly two times more likely to get into a motor vehicle crash than those who don't have ADHD. One of the reasons that may contribute to this more significant risk is that people with ADHD tend to be impulsive or sometimes can't focus on the task at hand, which would be driving.
Teen drivers with ADHD are also more likely to get into car accidents for the same reason. A recent report likewise indicated that the four-year crash rate was 37% higher in adolescent drivers with ADHD than non-ADHD teens. Different factors can contribute to this, but one of the most common reasons is that teenagers with ADHD often have difficulty following rules and directions. They may also act impulsively without thinking about the consequences of their actions. This can be dangerous not only for themselves but also for their surroundings.
Driving risks can be higher for people with ADHD; however, this doesn't mean that we can't find a way to manage our symptoms while on the road.
Having good driver education for safe driving is an indispensable requirement for a successful and accident-free experience. 👌 There are plenty of driving schools that give learner's permits to people with ADHD and help them accomplish their goals of having a driver's license. With the help of a good instructor, almost anyone with ADHD can be taught how to focus and be more aware of their surroundings.
Understanding yourself better may also help you successfully improve your driving performance and reduce your risk of making poor judgment and committing errors while on the road. Knowing the possible ADHD symptoms that can significantly impact your driving abilities is also essential.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Symptoms That Affect Driving
Some symptoms can directly affect our brains and make it difficult for us to pay attention while driving. ADHD traits such as being easily distracted 😵 and inattentiveness can make us lose focus, which can then cause severe injury or vehicle accidents if not managed well. Our impulsivity and difficulty in waiting can make us drive at above-average speed, ignore stop signs 🛑 and traffic lights 🚦, and even engage in road rage.
Sometimes, being forgetful can also affect our safe driving habits. Forgetting to wear a proper seat belt at times or losing car keys and then compensating for the lost hours by speeding are some of the things that we might do, which can be pretty dangerous.
To prevent driving accidents influenced by us having ADHD, it is essential to be more mindful and aware of our symptoms. 💪 We can try to limit distractions while driving, such as avoiding using a cell phone 📱, eating or drinking, putting on makeup, and changing the radio station too frequently.
It is also essential to give ourselves enough time to rest before going on a long drive. Fatigue can make us lose focus while driving. Having difficulties sleeping can adversely affect our driving performance as well.
Prone To Road Rage And Reckless Driving: What Can We Do?
Some drivers with ADHD tend to worry about controlling overwhelming emotions when it comes to driving and traffic situations. They often ask me how I manage not to get angry or frustrated when other drivers make mistakes or when there is heavy traffic.
We can't control how other people drive but what we can do is change the way we react to specific driving situations 🙌. When we feel that our anger is starting to boil up, it would be best to take a few deep breaths and try to relax. For safe driving, stop and take a break if you feel that you can't control your emotions anymore. It's hard to maintain focus while you have a clouded mindset. More importantly, it can lead to reckless driving.
Reckless driving can result in getting pulled over 👮, getting into an accident, or worse, severe injury to yourself or others. If you feel that your anger is manageable and you can still focus on the task at hand, then, by all means, continue driving. But if you think that your emotions can hamper your driving safely, it's best to pull over, take a minute off, and divert your attention.
We Don't Have Poor Driving Capabilities
Having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder does not equate to being bad at driving. 😉 Many people with ADHD are very good at driving. The key is knowing your symptoms and how they can affect your driving. With this knowledge, you can be more mindful of your actions and compensate for any potential issues.
We passed driving exams as all other drivers did. We know almost all driving rules by heart and avoid getting booked for traffic violations as much as we can. However, certain stereotypes make us think we are doing otherwise. Our driving performance can be affected because people might think that we don't know how to drive or are not capable of driving at all. 😭
Sure, we can get easily distracted while driving, especially during long trips. Our ADHD brain may also wander more often and we can experience losing focus or thinking about other stuff instead of being focused on driving. Cell phones 📱 can also be a huge distraction for us, and we may be more likely to use them while driving than people without ADHD.
But all in all, these don't make us bad drivers. We can be excellent drivers if we are aware of our symptoms and manage them effectively. With the proper knowledge and understanding of our condition, we can avoid accidents. 💪 Adults with ADHD are responsible enough to produce a perfect driving environment for themselves.
Driving Violation & Speeding Tickets Again?
One of the struggles of having ADHD as a driver is having to commit violations related to driving. 👮 Adult ADHD with driving privileges is more likely to receive traffic tickets for offenses such as speeding, running a stop sign, and careless driving.
There are a couple of reasons why this happens. One reason is that some people with ADHD often struggle with impulsivity. This means that we may act on our impulses without thinking about the consequences first. When we're driving, we may not think about the speed limit because we either get distracted by other things or have already forgotten them. Other drivers may see this as careless or even reckless driving.
Furthermore, some people with ADHD tend to have a hard time paying attention to detail. This can make it difficult to notice things like stop signs 🛑 and traffic lights 🚦. We may also fail to see other cars on the road, leading to accidents.
And lastly, some people with ADHD may struggle to follow safe driving rules. This means that we may not always drive within the speed limit or leave enough space between our car and the car in front of us, which can cause accidents. Traffic laws can also be complicated, and we may not always understand or remember them.
While it's true that some people with ADHD are more likely to get speeding tickets and be involved in accidents, it's important to remember that this doesn't mean that all people with ADHD are bad drivers. Your driving history doesn't entirely define you as a bad driver. But it's best to be aware of your symptoms and how they can affect your driving. This way, you can take the necessary precautions to avoid accidents and prevent having a suspended license.
Preventing Accidents and Understanding Driving with Adult ADHD
Having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder may impose a challenge for us in maintaining driving safety. Still, there are things that we can do to enhance our driving experience and prevent accidents from happening. Here are some possible tips that can help you:
- Having a mobile phone 📱 easily reachable when you drive may increase your urge to check for notifications or use them when you are stuck in a traffic jam. However, in some areas, using a cellular phone while driving can be considered distracted driving, causing you to be fined with a ticket for violating this state law. It is recommended to have phones, other gadgets, and even food far from your reach.
- Some adult drivers with ADHD cannot refrain from talking to someone else while driving, giving greater risk for distractions. They also tend to interrupt conversations and butt in when the topic is interesting for them. It's good to let your passengers know that you tend to talk a lot and may be unfocused while driving. Let them remind you if you become too invested in the conversation.
- A previous study suggests that automation can cause complacency (such as when you use a car with Automatic Transmission). Likewise, manual transmission cars can be complex for someone with ADHD because they need to focus more on shifting gears rather than giving the required attention to the road. Choose something that you are comfortable with 🚗, and learn and practice safe driving.
- Music 🎵 can make or break your driving behavior. There are times when these background sounds can soothe you, but there are also moments when they can make you more restless. If you tend to get too distracted by your music, it’s best to refrain from using it while driving or have someone else control the playlist. Otherwise, if you feel energized and pumped up with them, then, by all means, enjoy the ride but keep the volume to the fair value.
- ADHD medication can sometimes affect how we behave. Sometimes it helps with distractions, and other times it can make us feel more tired than usual. If you are taking medication for ADHD, be sure to ask your doctor how it will affect your driving. You might need to adjust your dose or even switch to a different medication treatment if it’s impacting your ability to drive safely.
- Some people with ADHD may drive differently compared to others. But, remember: being a good driver isn't defined by your mistakes. Talk to people with the same neurodivergent disorder as you and ask for their advice. Learning how people overcome something may be your best teacher in learning new things. 💪
- Lastly, be honest with yourself. If you feel like your ADHD affects your driving, it probably does. Don't be afraid to ask for help from a therapist or doctor who can give you the proper diagnosis and treatment. There are also support groups available to help you understand your driving behavior. If you need to have a refresher course on driver education, kindly do so to prevent incidents from happening.
Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder need not worry too much about driving. With a few tips and deep understanding on how to manage the symptoms involved, we can overcome this challenge and enjoy the experience. Have safe driving!
ADHD and Driving: FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions).
1. If you have ADHD, does that mean you’ll be a bad or reckless driver?
No. Having ADHD doesn’t mean you’ll be a bad or reckless driver. In fact, many people who have ADHD are excellent drivers. You may need to work hard to manage your symptoms, but when you do it effectively, you can avoid accidents, injuries, tickets, and you can enjoy driving.
2. What are some of the ADHD-related symptoms that affect driving?
Some of the ADHD traits that can impact your driving skills include impulsivity or taking action without much thought, forgetfulness, being easily distracted, not being able to pay attention to details, and difficulty in handling emotions.
3. How can you become a good driver when you have ADHD?
Just like any driver, you need a good driver education before anything else. Afterward, it would help if you can manage your symptoms effectively. You can do this with therapy or medications, however, please note that little things count, too. For instance, placing your phone out of your reach may help prevent you from using them. Asking your passengers to remind you to focus also helps. If you need professional help to manage your symptoms or improve your driving, please don’t hesitate to do so.