ADHD & Driving: Keep Teens Safe on the Road

Q:

"My 18-year-old daughter wants to get her driver’s license, but I’m worried. She’s easily distracted and tends to miss important things on the periphery of her vision, such as stop signs. Any tips we can try?"

A:

First and foremost, if your daughter takes ADHD medication, it’s important for her to take it whenever she may need to drive. She’ll be a much more careful driver if her ADHD’s effectively treated. If she doesn’t take medication, you may want to ask her doctor about prescribing one.

When she’s on the road, work to reduce the distractions inside the car. No food, friends, or music while she’s getting comfortable with driving. Teach her to scan intersections for pedestrians, traffic lights, and road signs. It may help for her to read road signs aloud to herself. Also, you, your spouse, or another trusted adult should ride along as her “co-pilot” for the first six months to a year (or her first 500 miles of driving), to reinforce safe driving habits.

Patricia Quinn, M.D., is a developmental pediatrician in the Washington, D.C., area. A graduate of the Georgetown University Medical School, Quinn specializes in child development and psychopharmacology. Cofounder and director of the Center for Girls and Women with ADHD, she is the author of Putting on the Brakes: A Young People’s Guide to Understanding Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
 
 
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