Reducing Crash Risk for Teens with ADHD: A Promising Training Program
ADHD has been linked to an increased risk of accidents on the road. Recent studies have shown that teens and older adults with ADHD are two times more likely to be involved in car crashes than their age mates.
That’s because of their tendency to taking their eyes off the road due to distraction while driving. If you’re living with ADHD, you might not want to be behind the wheel for fear of crashing.
But there’s good news. A recent study shows that a driving simulator training program may reduce the car crash risk of ADHD teens by a massive 40%.
The study, conducted by Dr. Jeffery N. Epstein and his team at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, focused on a training program that combines computer-based and driving simulator exercises. The program aimed to address the tendency of young drivers, especially those with ADHD, to take their eyes off the road for extended periods when distracted.
How it works
The program, dubbed FOCAL+, essentially teaches teen drivers with ADHD to manage distractions with a series of quick glances instead of long, attention-diverting stares. The program utilizes both computer-based and driving simulator training to instill this crucial skill.
The computer-based training involved a screen split into two halves. The top portion displayed a driver's view of the road, while the bottom displayed a map. Participants were tasked with identifying street names on the map by pressing the spacebar. However, when they pressed the spacebar, the map took over the screen, obscuring the road. A second spacebar press returned the view to the road. This exercise mimicked the challenges of multitasking while driving. An alarm would sound if the map was displayed for more than three seconds, emphasizing the importance of maintaining focus on the road.
Following the computer training, participants moved on to the driving simulator exercises. Equipped with specialized glasses to track their eye and head movements, they were tasked with identifying random symbols on the simulator's dashboard. If their gaze shifted away from the road for over two seconds, an alarm was triggered. Participants who scored poorly had to repeat the simulated drives until they improved their scores.
The control group, meanwhile, received a program that included driver safety instruction on a computer and conducted street and symbol searches in the driving simulator, but without alarms for longer glances.
Keeping ADHD drivers more attentive on the road
The study's findings were promising. One month after completing the program, ADHD teens who underwent the FOCAL+ training had an average of 16.52 long glances, compared to the control group's 28.05 long glances. That means the program reduced how long their eyes were off the road. Six months post-training, they still maintained their improvement.
But perhaps the most significant results were observed when participants took to the real road. Over a year of driving, the FOCAL+ group demonstrated a remarkable 76% reduction in long glances compared to the control group.
Even more importantly, the rate of crashes and near-crashes among ADHD teens who underwent the FOCAL+ training plummeted to 3.4%, compared to 5.6% for the control group – that’s roughly 40% reduction in incidents.
The bottom line
Teens with ADHD face a higher risk of car accidents, often due to their inability to maintain focus while driving. With this new technology involving simulation and training, parents and their teens looking to navigate the road responsibly can have reassurance holding the steering wheel once more.
The impact of ADHD doesn’t start and end on the road though. If you’re living with ADHD, you’re probably facing a range of issues that are disrupting your life, from feeling disorganized to forgetting and making careless mistakes. If you’d love to manage your condition and lead a more normal life, we can help.
At Hope Mental Health, we’ll evaluate your condition to determine the most suitable approach to help, whether medication, therapy, or a combination of both.
Come, let’s talk!