ADHD News & Research

Study: Teens with ADHD at Higher Risk for Car Crashes and Traffic Violations

Traffic violations, crashes, and risky driving behaviors are all more common among teens with ADHD, according to a new study of nearly 15,000 adolescents with and without attention deficit disorder.

May 22, 2019

Teens diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD) are more likely to be issued traffic and moving violations, crash their cars, and engage in risky driving behavior such as driving while inebriated, not wearing a seatbelt, and speeding. This is according to findings from a study recently published in the journal Pediatrics1 by researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s (CHOP) Center for Injury Research and Prevention and Center for Management of ADHD.

Researchers studied the records of 14,936 adolescent patients — including 1,769 with childhood-diagnosed ADHD — at CHOP primary care practices in New Jersey who had acquired a driver’s license. Participants’ electronic health data was linked with New Jersey’s licensing, crash, and violation databases in order to compare the vehicular records of participants with and without ADHD.

Drivers with ADHD were 62% more likely to crash their cars in the first month after receiving their license, and they were 37% more likely to experience a crash during the first four years of having their license, regardless of their age when obtaining a license. Drivers with ADHD experienced higher rates of specific crash types and their risk for alcohol-related crashes was 109% higher than those without ADHD. They also had higher rates of moving violations and suspensions.

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The evidence that teens with ADHD are at a particularly high crash risk means that comprehensive preventative approaches are critically needed, the researchers said. Director for the Center of ADHD Management at CHOP and co-author of this study, Thomas J. Power, PhD, ABPP, says “We need additional research to understand the specific mechanisms by which ADHD symptoms influence crash risk so that we can develop skills training and behavioral interventions to reduce the risk for newly licensed drivers with ADHD.”2


Curry et al. Longitudinal study of traffic crashes, violations, and suspensions among young drivers with ADHD. Pediatrics (May 2019). 10.1542/peds.2018-2305

Teens with ADHD get more traffic violations for risky driving, have higher crash risk. Science Daily (May 2019).