Although learning to drive may be a rite of passage for most teens, teens with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder may need extra help in navigating the road to licensure. The symptoms of ADHD – difficulty with attention, challenges with emotion regulation, disorganization and impulsivity – heighten a teen’s risk for unsafe driving behaviors and crashes. The presence of ADHD increased a teen’s crash risk by two to four times, placing them at a higher crash risk than adults who are legally drunk, found a 2007 study.
I am often asked by parents of teens with ADHD for advice on determining whether their child is ready to drive, what to focus on with practice driving, and how to keep their teen safe after the learner permit phase when driving without supervision. Unfortunately, the evidence base is limited for proven effective ways to keep them safe during the learning-to-drive period and beyond. As we learn more, I will share guidance, but for now, what I can offer are suggestions based on experience.