Teen Driving and Mental Health
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and conduct disorder affect many school-aged children. But new research shows that the conditions may also raise the risk of car accidents for teenage drivers.
According to a study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, teens with self-reported hyperactivity, impulsivity, and those with anger or bullying issues are more likely to engage in risky activities while driving or make mistakes that can lead to serious crashes.
Study participants included 60 teenagers aged 16 to 17 who had fewer than 90 days experience driving independently. Each participant was asked a series of questions that measured their level of hyperactivity, impulsivity, focus, and attention.
A written questionnaire also looked for any bullying or threatening behaviors that are associated with conduct disorder, as well as the potential for depression. Parents of each participant completed a separate survey that assessed their child’s mental health.
Testing and Results
Each participant engaged in a driving simulator that presented 21 potential accident situations. Researchers measured and recorded the teens’ response times, visual focus, which lane they chose to drive, how well they obeyed traffic signs and signals, and how they used the car’s brakes in dangerous situations.
Drivers were also surveyed on their use of cell phones while driving; whether they drove above the posted speed limit; and whether they obeyed the law regarding how many underage passengers they allowed in the car at one time.
The results of the survey were clear. Teens who reported symptoms of hyperactivity, impulsivity, or conduct disorder were more likely to get into a car accident than teens without these symptoms. Newly licensed drivers with ADHD or symptoms of ADHD made more mistakes in the simulator portion of the study than those teens without impulsive or hyperactive tendencies.
Those with behavioral and conduct issues were prone to engaging in high risk activities, such as speeding, distracted driving, or failing to obey traffic signs and signals.
Researchers involved in the study agree that identifying newly licensed teen drivers with diagnosed or undiagnosed ADHD or conduct disorder could reduce their likelihood of getting into a car accident. Addressing focusing issues, attentional deficits, hyperactivity and impulsivity, as well as conduct issues that result in high-risk behaviors can result in fewer driver errors and more controlled behavior behind the wheel.
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If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Call the Cherry Hill car accident lawyers at Williams Cedar at 856-470-9777 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today. Our Philadelphia and Haddonfield, New Jersey offices serve clients throughout Pennsylvania, South Jersey, and across the nation.