Driving with ADHD: Manual Transmission

By: Jummy Olabanji Email
By: Jummy Olabanji Email

June 20, 2007

Psychologists at the University of Virginia have been researching the driving habits of teens with ADHD and, they believe the type of transmission you choose for your child may make the difference in serious driving situations.

“One of the problems with driving and ADHD is they can easily become in-attentive, daydream and not pay attention to what’s going on in their driving environment,” said Dr. Daniel Cox, a researcher and doctor in UVA’s Department of Psychiatric Medicine.

Doctor Cox says in-attentive drivers tend to*not pay attention to changing traffic lights or other cars on the road.

“If you are impulsive you are more likely to run yellow lights, cut people off, etc, also exposing yourself and others on the road to higher risk situations,” said Dr. Cox.

Researchers at UVA’s Virginia Driving Safety Lab conducted tests on teen boys age 16 to 19, who suffer from ADHD.

Dr. Cox said, “We trained them in terms of driving in automatic transmission and or 4-speed manual transmission. Then we evaluated their driving when they drove either or these two transmissions.”

The results show that the teens drove twice as better on a manual car than an automatic one.

“When I’m driving my manual I have to pay attention to the road more, pay attention to my speed, so I know what gear to put it in, when I’m slowing down, when I need to downshift. So I think it helps me focus a lot better,” said Cory Cox, a teen driver.

Dr Cox said, “I think what that says is that anything that draws the ADHD drivers attention back to driving, what they are doing is a good thing.”

All of these experiments were conducted through the Virginia Driving Safety Lab at UVA.

Anyone who's concerned that a medical condition may be affecting their driving should contact the lab with further questions.

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