Adolescent drivers with conditions like attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may be at increased risk for errors behind the wheel, according to a study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
The study involved 60 drivers, aged 16 and 17, who had been issued a license within the past 90 days. Researchers evaluated the teens’ mental health, focusing on three conditions associated with risky driving: ADHD, conduct disorder, and depression. People with ADHD may find it difficult to pay attention and control impulsive behavior.
The researchers used a high-fidelity driving simulator to assess the teens’ responses to various types of common, avoidable crash scenarios. Study participants also completed self-report questionnaires on risky driving behaviors like speeding and not wearing a seat belt, and their parents were asked to fill out a questionnaire about their teens' mental health.
According to the researchers, self-reported inattention, hyperactivity, impulsivity, or conduct disorder was related to errors on the driving simulator assessment and to risky driving behaviors. Higher self-reported depression scores resulted in fewer driving errors, and parents' assessments of the teens’ mental health were not related to risky driving behaviors.