ADHD and Driving Safety

Patients often mention that their ADHD causes them to get speeding/red light violations and to become involved in fender-benders and other accidents.  In fact, individuals with ADHD often have trouble staying “in the moment” and have a much higher risk of driving incidents as their minds begin to wonder behind the wheel.  While attention during driving is usually improved with medications, driving mishaps can still persist.

The following is a simple technique that I developed to help my patients deal with this problem.

Here’s how it works: First turn off your car radio, IPod, etc. Every few minutes, quietly speak aloud your destination, the road or highway you are on, the direction you are travelling, and your general location. For example, you might say “I am focusing on driving to the airport. I am going North on I-95 and just passed exit 35.” You also can take notice of the traffic immediately around you and describe it out loud every few seconds as well to help you stay focused on your driving.  You might say, for example, “There is a white van ahead of me and a blue Volkswagen to the right”.  In addition, before you make a lane change, check for traffic on all sides and then say out loud, “Left lane is clear” or Right lane is clear” before actually moving into the next lane over. Finally, you can get used to saying, “Clear to back up” before backing out of a parking space to help ensure you actually check for other cars and pedestrians behind you.

In addition to helping you drive more safely, the above technique can be an effective mental exercise to improve focus in general.