Study Evaluates Distracted Driving Among Adolescents with ADHD

August 14, 2013

A study using a driving simulator suggests that adolescents with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) who were distracted while driving demonstrated more variability in speed and lane position than adolescents without ADHD, according to a study published by JAMA Pediatrics.

While adolescents as a group are at increased risk for motor vehicle crashes (MVCs), those diagnosed with ADHD have an even greater risk. Patients with ADHD have higher rates of MVCs and experience greater tactical and operational driving impairments than their counterparts without ADHD, according to the study background.

Megan Narad, M.A., of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, and colleagues studied 61 adolescents ages 16 to 17 years of age with ADHD and without ADHD during simulated driving under three conditions: no distraction, cell phone conversation, and texting.

“Driving deficits related to ADHD appear to impact specific driving behaviors, namely, variability in speed and lane position. Because both maintaining a consistent speed and central, consistent lane position require constant attention to the road and one’s surroundings, the pattern of our findings are not surprising,” the authors comment.

The study notes there appeared to be no ADHD-related deficits for average speed, braking reaction time or likelihood of crash. However, the study suggests that texting “significantly impairs” the driving performance of all adolescents and increases existing driving-related impairment in adolescents with ADHD.

“In conclusion, this study clearly demonstrates that both an ADHD diagnosis and texting while driving present serious risks to the driving performance of adolescents. There is a clear need for policy and/or intervention efforts to address these risks,” the authors conclude.

In an editorial, Flaura K. Winston, M.D., Ph.D., of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and colleagues write: “There is growing evidence that ADHD and distraction among novice teen drivers create a potential perfect storm. Graduated driver licensing as a universal-level intervention serves as an excellent foundation for a tiered approach that includes additional selective and indicated interventions to target novice teens with ADHD and/or those engaging in distracted driving and other risky behaviors.”

“There is an urgent need for the medical and public health communities to prioritize driving behavior as a core component of adolescent preventive health care; stress the importance of adhering to GDL [graduated driver licensing] provisions; and build on this foundation by incorporating a tailored, individualized approach that matches the teen’s risks to an evidence-based portfolio of interventions,” they conclude.

Source: American Medical Association (AMA)

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.