ADHD Risks on the Road

Individuals with ADHD can experience a number of symptoms that could potentially affect their driving abilities, including:

  • Poor focus: They could get easily distracted or fail to pay close enough attention to what’s happening on the road while driving.
  • Impulsivity: Someone with ADHD may be more prone to reckless driving behaviors, like speeding, disobeying traffic laws, or using their phone while behind the wheel.
  • Impatience: A struggle to be patient can result in risky driving or escalate into road rage.
  • Working memory: They might forget the instructions on how to get to their destination or misremember which street to turn on, which makes driving stressful.
  • Substance use: People with ADHD have a higher risk of substance misuse, which can impair their ability to drive safely.

Unfortunately, these symptoms can have serious consequences. Adults with ADHD have a higher risk of driving accidents compared to adults who don’t have ADHD. They’re also at a greater risk of getting a traffic ticket, driving without a license, or having their license revoked or suspended.

How to Drive Safely with ADHD

Despite many symptoms that can potentially put them at risk on the road, plenty of people with ADHD are able to drive safely every day. However, many of these safe drivers take extra steps to make sure their ADHD symptoms aren’t interfering with their driving ability.

Want to become a safer driver and protect yourself, your passengers, and other people on the road? Use these tips every time you get behind the wheel.

Take your ADHD medication

One of the most effective ways to address your driving abilities as someone with ADHD is to take your medication as prescribed. One study using a driving simulator found that drivers with ADHD who are medicated react faster to surprise events on the road and were less likely to have a collision than those who did not take medication.

Timing is key, however, when it comes to improving driving performance with ADHD medication. It’s important to take your meds in time for them to take effect when you’ll be driving. If necessary, you may need to consult your healthcare provider about how to schedule your medication in order to prioritize safety while driving. Our licensed ADHD clinicians at Done can also help with customizing your ADHD medication schedule to suit your needs.

Remove distractions

Inattention is one of the biggest problems for drivers with ADHD. That’s why it’s important to minimize distractions so you can boost your focus when you’re on the road. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Declutter your car to prevent visual distraction.
  • Avoid eating and drinking while you drive.
  • Keep the radio at a reasonable volume, and select a station that doesn’t create added distractions.
  • Turn off phone notifications and don’t use your device for anything except directions while driving.
  • Allow the use of devices with headphones when kids in the backseat are creating distractions.

In addition to using these tips, be aware of what types of driving increase the risk of distraction. Many folks with ADHD find that low-stimulation drives, like those that take place on long stretches of highway, create more chances to lose focus or start daydreaming. Coupled with the high speeds in these areas, it increases the risk of a serious accident.

Try to be especially alert during these periods. Avoid using cruise control since it reduces your engagement as a driver. If possible, drive a manual transmission vehicle for these trips since it increases driver engagement.

Keep emotions in check

Impulsive symptoms are relatively common with ADHD. One of the signs of impulsivity is emotional dysregulation, which can unfortunately create real risks on the road. If you get excessively angry at another driver, it could cause you to drive more aggressively.

Look for ways to regulate your emotions while you’re behind the wheel. Here are a few strategies and tips to try:

  • Leave plenty of time to get to your destination so you don’t feel rushed.
  • Practice deep breathing or pull over and take a break when you get upset.
  • Avoid using your horn unless it’s really necessary.
  • Work on being a polite driver, and avoid exceeding the speed limit.
  • If someone expresses road rage at you, don’t engage. Instead, create distance between their vehicle and yours on the road.

Being a safe driver takes effort, especially when you are working against your ADHD symptoms. Make sure you have a solid treatment plan in place and use the guidance above to reduce risks on the road.