ADHD + Teen + Driving = Danger


Did you know that you’re not fully grown up until you’re 25?

That’s right!  Your brain keeps growing well past the time you reach your full height.  Studies by the National Institute of Health and UCLA show that the risk assessment area of the brain isn’t fully developed until age 25.

Teen drivers at risk

So it shouldn’t be a surprise then, teen drivers are at risk when driving.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, teens are only 7% of licensed drivers, yet they account for 14% of fatal collisions.  In 2003, 3,657 teen drivers were killed, and an additional 308,000 were injured in crashes (Source:  AAA Foundation of Traffic Safety).  Put another way,  that means a 16 year old is twice as likely to have an accident as someone in their 80s!

The property damage costs of teen driver accidents is staggering – over $31 billion each year.

ADHD teens – an even greater driving risk

A few sobering facts about ADHD teens and driving. When compared to other teens…

  1. ADHD teen drivers are seven times as likely to have been in 2 or more accidents.
  2. ADHD teen drivers are two times as likely to have a speeding ticket.
  3. ADHD teen drivers are five times as likely to have a traffic citation.
  4. ADHD teen drivers are four times as likely to have been in an injury accident.
  5. ADHD teen drivers are four times as likely to have been at fault for the accident they were in.

Families of ADHD teen drivers have a higher risk of:

  1. Serious injury or death of their child,
  2. Property damage,
  3. Higher health care costs,
  4. More involvement with legal and liability issues, and
  5. Higher motor vehicle insurance rates.

Do we keep ADHD teens from driving?

Of course not! Driving is an important rite of passage in this country. It gives freedom and responsibility to our young adults and helps families manage complicated schedules.  BUT…

There are things you can do to keep yourself (or your teen) safe in the early years of becoming a skilled driver.  Next time we’ll show you how.

Have questions about ADHD teens and driving?  Ask them here, and we’ll do our best to answer them in a future post.

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5 Responses

  1. Donna Angel

    we shouldn’t keep them away from driivng but there should be higher passing score for them.

    • Peggy

      That’s an interesting point of view that is probably shared with the states that have passed laws restricting younger drivers to not having passengers or only driving during the day.

  2. Nina Einck

    My son is 16 and has ADHD and is on medication to help him control himself. He refuses to practice driving. We have a car for him and everything. I don’t understand his refusal to practice. He keeps indicating it takes too much work to drive. Is this common with kids with ADHD? My daughter, who does not have ADHD, wanted to drive as much as she could, and when she turned 16 couldn’t wait to drive by herself.

    • Peggy -- Edge blogger

      Sounds like he just isn’t ready to start driving. Often times kids with ADHD will say something that’s hard is “boring.” Perhaps saying “it’s too much work” could be a way of him saving face where he’s really overwhelmed by the task of learning to drive. There’s no law that says every 16 year old needs a driver’s license, but it’s not unreasonable to expect a 16 year old to get to places on his own.

      So why not shift the conversation to a discussion of what can you do to help him take responsibility for his personal transportation now that he’s 16. Are there bus routes to learn? Can he be responsible for finding his own rides? Can he start planning ahead for thinking through how to get where he needs to go without you taking him there?

      An ADHD coach can help your son figure out these questions…. and take you out of the power struggle over driving.

      Here’s what one of our Facebook fans said on the topic:
      “As an adult with ADD, I can tell you that driving can be a scary situation for me. Its all the stuff outside the car that you either need to pay attention to or that grabs your attention because of your damn ADD. An overload of stimulation. I find it helpful to have someone with me when I drive to help keep me from being distracted by all that stimuli.” To join in the discussion visit

  3. Nina Einck

    Thank you for the input. I really appreciate it, I want to understand him and help him.