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ADHD in Children Health Center

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Teens, Driving, and ADHD

WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Smitha Bhandari, MD

Parents of teenagers with ADHD have more to think about before their child gets behind the wheel of a car. Young adults with the disorder have as many as four times the number of accidents as those who don’t have the condition.

That's cause for concern, but it doesn't mean you need to keep your kid out of the driver's seat. Just take some precautions.

Make Sure Your Teen Has Taken ADHD Medications

Prescription drugs help most kids with ADHD focus their attention and curb their impulsive habits. That's crucial for safe driving, says University of Virginia professor of psychiatric medicine Daniel Cox, PhD.

If your child responds well to her ADHD medication, then "driving and medication should go hand in hand," says Cox, who has written several studies on the disorder and driving.

His experience goes beyond professional interest. His two sons, now adults, both have ADHD -- and both had attention problems that needed to be watched when they learned to drive.

Research shows long-acting forms of stimulant medications, whether a patch or a pill, do the best job of keeping a teen's eyes on the road. These once-a-day meds benefit your child all day and into the evening.

Shorter-acting medications leave the risk of being caught between doses when behind the wheel.

Cox says different people respond to different medications. So you, your teen, and their doctor should work together to find the one that's the right fit.

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