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This study found that the rate of crashes and near-collisions during driving was lower in teens with ADHD in the year after a computerized skills-training program.

Automobile accidents are a major cause of death among young people. Those with attention deficit–hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are twice as likely to be involved in an accident as those without the condition. Teen drivers, particularly those with ADHD, have trouble maintaining visual attention on the highway, especially when multitasking. 

According to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, teens with ADHD may benefit from a computerized skills-training program to lessen their tendency to take long glances away from the road and change lane positions.

Study Population

Youth between the ages of 16 and 19 years with a valid driver’s license and ADHD were sought out by the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Participants were split into two groups: one received the intervention and one received a control instruction. Both groups were observed for a full year.

Reduction in Long Glances per 15 Minutes and Lane Position

At baseline, the intervention group averaged 21.5 long glances per 15-minute drive, whereas the control group averaged 23.1 long glances. After 1 month and 6 months of training, those in the intervention group averaged 16.5 long glances per 15-minute drive in the simulated-driving evaluations. In contrast, their counterparts in the control group averaged 28 and 27 long glances per 15-minute drive at 1 and 6 months, respectively.

The standard deviation of lane position (in feet) was 0.98 SD at 1 month and 0.98 SD at 6 months in the intervention group, and 1.20 SD at both 1 month and 6 months in the control group.

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Unexpected Changes in a Vehicle’s Momentum (A G-Force Event)
Long glances per g-force event were lower in the intervention group at 18.3% compared to the control group at 23.9% over a year after training. The rate of crashes or near-collisions during g-force events was lower in the intervention group, at 3.4%, compared to 5.6% in the control group.

Adverse Events During Training
During training drives, 8% of individuals in the intervention group and 5% of those in the control group experienced motion sickness. Only 3% of those in the intervention group and 0% in the control group reported experiencing frustration during the training.

Enhanced Driving Performance With Stimulant Medication

The real-world driving performance of teens with ADHD has been demonstrated to improve with stimulant medication in previous studies. The pharmacological effects of these drugs typically persist for between 10 and 12 hours.

Compared to a control program, the frequency of long glances away from the roadway and the variance in lane position of teenagers with ADHD decreased when they used a computerized simulated-driving program meant to reduce the frequency and duration of long glances.

Source:

Epstein, J. N., Garner, A. A., Kiefer, A. W., Peugh, J., Tamm, L., MacPherson, R. P., Simon, J. R., & Fisher, D. L. (2022). Trial of Training to Reduce Driver Inattention in Teens with ADHD. The New England Journal of Medicine, 387(22), 2056–2066. https://doi.org/10.1056/nejmoa2204783