ADHD drivers found more likely to cause car crashes

Picture of brain with ADHD characteristics

Research has found that drivers who suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) are more likely to cause car crashes than those who don’t. ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, impulsiveness, or a combination. Therefore, those driving with this condition can make careless mistakes while driving a vehicle.

In a recent CNN article, Zeng Chang, lead researcher in the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Karolinska Institute in Sweden said, ‘”Core symptoms of ADHD (e.g., inattention and impulsivity) may interfere with the competencies necessary to drive safely, predisposing those with the disorder to greater risk for accidents and injuries.”

Chang and his co-authors estimate that up to 22.1% of car crashes could have been avoided if the patients with ADHD had received medication.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, about 60% of children with ADHD become adults with ADHD. That translates into 8 million adults with the condition.

The good news is that car accidents among medicated patients with ADHD occur at a dramatically lower rate than those who are not medicated. In addition, ADHD drivers can improve their driving skills through awareness of the careless mistakes other ADHD sufferers have made and by behavioral therapy.

Frequent driving mistakes made by ADHD drivers

Here are the driving mistakes made by ADHD drivers that other ADHD drivers can learn from.

  • Distracted driving: Those with ADHD tend to get distracted while driving during periods of slow and boring driving. They will change radio stations, use their smartphones, fix their hair, put on make-up, drink, eat, etc., in order to reduce their boredom.
  • Hyper-focusing: Many with ADHD focus so intently on one thing that they don’t stay alert to what is happening around them. This is a serious danger to the driver, his or her passengers, or others on the road. They can miss reading warning signs, school crossing signs, reduced speed warnings, and someone stopping suddenly in front of them.
  • Impulsive driving behaviors: Some experts believe that an impulsive or distracted ADHD driver can be just as dangerous as a driver under the influence of drugs or alcohol. These drivers can become quickly frustrated and impulsive exhibiting dangerous driving behaviors, such as sudden turns, aggressive passing, and running a red light.
  • Speeding and reckless driving: Those with ADHD can be inattentive about speed limits and driving conditions. A driver with ADHD has to work much harder at staying within the speed limit. They also need to be sure and pay attention to any changes in the speed limit, and recognize times when they need to go below the speed limits (accidents, weather conditions, traffic back-ups).
  • Other driving errors: Other errors ADHD drivers may make include not coming to a complete stop at a light or stop sign, difficulty changing lanes and then committing to that decision, impatience or confusion at four-way stop signs, agitation at freeway or lane merging, improper lane changes, braking too fast, and following too closely.

The above mistakes include rash or poor judgment and risk-taking that can contribute to an increased possibility of causing a car crash. As stated before, such errors can be avoided by taking the proper medications, psychosocial treatments such as behavior therapy, and by being aware of the need to be extra, extra cautious as an ADHD driver.

I’d be interested to know of any insights you may have on the subject, so please comment if you do.

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Attribution: By Psyc3330 w11 (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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