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Teens With Special Needs


Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

  • Compared to teens without Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), young drivers with ADHD are two to four times more likely to be involved in motor vehicle crashes, three times more likely to sustain injuries in crashes, four times more likely to be at fault, and six to eight times more likely to have their license suspended.1,2
  • Both parents and driver education instructors rated adolescents with ADHD less likely to drive with safe habits and to demonstrate more driving errors than adolescents without ADHD.1,3
  • Teens with ADHD may respond differently to changing road conditions and make more errors in response tasks in a driving simulator, as well as score lower on tests of driving rules knowledge than adolescents without ADHD. 2,3
  • Studies using simulators to assess driving performance showed individuals with ADHD experienced more risky driving behaviors (scrapes, collisions, and poorer steering control) compared to their peers without ADHD. 2,3  

Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • Among families of teens with higher-functioning autism spectrum disorders, driving is a significant issue, with learning to drive frequently considered. Independent predictors of learning to drive included indicators of functional status at home and at school, support from the school, and parent experience with teaching other teens to drive.4
  • Two-thirds of 15- to 18-year-olds with a higher-functioning autism spectrum disorder (HFASD) old enough to drive in their state are currently driving or planning to drive. 4
  • Predictors of driving among teens with a higher-functioning autism spectrum disorder (HFASD) include:
    -- age 17 or older
    --enrollment in full-time regular education
    --plan to attend college
    --have held a job for pay
    --have a parent that has taught another teen to drive
    --presence of driving-related goals in individualized education plan (IEP)
  • A study assessing the hazard perception skills of young males that do not drive found that compared to individuals without autism, those with autism spectrum disorders identified fewer hazards where the source involved people (as opposed to objects such as another car); they were also slower to respond to hazards.5

General Statistics

  • Individuals with intellectual disabilities may be more likely to experience traffic violations compared to those without intellectual disabilities. 6,7

  1. Barkley RA, Guevremont DC, Anastopoulos AD, DuPaul GJ and Shelton TL (1993). Driving-related risks and outcomes of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in adolescents and young adults: A 3- to 5-year follow-up survey. Pediatrics, 92(2), 212–218.
  2. Barkley RA, Murphy KR and Kwasnik D (1996). Motor vehicle driving competencies and risks in teens and young adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Pediatrics, 98(6 Pt. 1), 1089–1095.
  3. Fischer M, Barkley RA, Smallish L, and  Fletcher K (2007). Hyperactive children as young adults: Driving abilities, safe driving behavior, and adverse driving outcomes. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 39(1), 94–105.
  4. Huang P and Durbin D (2010). Factors Associated with Driving in Teens with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. January 2012.
  5. Sheppard E, Ropar D, Underwood G, and van Loon E (2010). Brief Report: Driving hazard perception in autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 40(4), 504-508.
  6. Boyce L and Dax EC (1974). Driving behaviour as differentiated by the Tasmanian Ten Year Old Intelligence Test: 1. The types and varieties of traffic offences committed by young men of lower intelligence: II. The effect of driver education on the traffic offences committed by young men of lower intelligence. Australian Journal of Mental Retardation, 3(2), 40–48.
  7. Gutshall RW, Harper C, and Burke D (1968). An exploratory study of the interrelations among driving ability, driving exposure, and socioeconomic status of low, average, and high intelligence males. Exceptional Children, 35(1), 21.
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