7 Tips to Keep Teens With ADHD Safe Behind the Wheel
Your teen is quickly approaching driving age, and you know you can’t keep him or her away from the steering wheel forever. But when your teen has ADHD, how do you prepare for safe driving? Here are seven tips for equipping your teen for life behind the wheel.
You know your teen has trouble staying focused during schoolwork and daily tasks, and you shouldn’t expect it to be any different in the driver’s seat. Maximize your child’s ability to stay focused while driving by making the car a distraction-free environment. That means no texting or calling, changing the music, eating, or fiddling with GPS while the car’s in motion. Since it’s hard to enforce these rules from home, equip the car with hands-free technology so it’s easy to pick a new band without looking away from the road. You could even utilize technology that blocks cell phone use while the car is running.
Many places limit how many passengers new drivers can have, but take it a step further by making a no-passengers rule for the first year, followed by a limit of one passenger at a time. This gives teens with ADHD time to master driving essentials before introducing any potential distractions. If your teen protests this rule, explain how driving with other teens and young adults increases the risk of a fatal accident eight times over — and that’s among all teen drivers, not just those with an attention deficit.
Forbidding texting and driving for a teen driver, especially one with ADHD, may seem obvious. However, there are other distractions that parents may overlook. The car itself could be distracting if it has a tech-rich dashboard or a cluttered interior. When shopping for a teen’s first car, opt for a model with a simple dash design and basic controls. Enforce a tidy interior at all times to prevent your teen from looking away from the road to reach for items.
Consider getting a manual transmission instead of automatic. While you may think an automatic transmission would be easier for a teen to master, there’s evidence that manual vehicles promote better driver concentration.
Being a good driver isn’t just about following the rules of the road. To ensure your teen is truly prepared, equip him or her with a roadside emergency kit and talk about what to do in the event of an accident or breakdown. Stock the trunk with everything needed for changing a tire and jumping a battery, and show your teen how to use it. For extra peace of mind, enroll teen drivers in a roadside assistance plan. That way, you know your child is safe even if he or she can’t remember the steps to repair a flat tire.
Another essential part of a teen’s safe driving success plan? Keeping the vehicle perfectly roadworthy at all times. Talk to your teen about the importance of routine car maintenance and reinforce the lesson when scheduled maintenance like oil changes come due. Depending on your teen’s interests, teaching car maintenance you can do at home could be a helpful measure.
Teens with ADHD should never get behind the wheel without taking prescribed medication. While some families may prioritize taking medication during school hours and be more lax during downtime, consistent medication adherence is crucial for safe driving.
Getting a driver’s license is an exciting moment in a teen’s life. It’s a hallmark of freedom and a gateway to new worlds. However, it’s also a dangerous tool with risk directly tied to the concentration of its driver. If your teen has ADHD, take these measures to keep him or her as safe as possible on the road.
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