MIAMI – A small study published in the New England Journal of Medicine this week has found that a new program geared to teen drivers who have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, has significantly reduced crashes and near crashes.
"This is the first intervention that we were able to put out there that really does reduce driving risks," said lead researcher Jeff Epstein, Ph.D., from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.
According to the National Institutes of Health, teen drivers are four times more likely to be in a crash than adult drivers and teens with ADHD are twice as likely to be in a crash compared to teens who do not have the disorder. One major factor is that teen drivers with ADHD tend to take their eyes off the road for prolonged periods of time when distracted.
A new training program from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center is teaching ADHD teens to deal with distractions. It involves a driving simulator that buzzes when the teen drivers look away from the road for two seconds or more.
"This intervention significantly reduced those long eye glances from the roadway, both during simulated driving as well as during real world driving," said Epstein.
Researchers put cameras in all of the study participants cars for a full year after the program to monitor their eye glance behavior. They found the group that underwent the training had 76% fewer long eye glances than the control group, and a 40% reduction in crashes and near crashes.
This was a small study; a total of 152 teens took part. Seventy-six received the training and 76 did not.
"I want this intervention to spread and really be for teens to be able to have access to this, with the goal being it will save lives," said Epstein.
According to the CDC, there are more than 3 million American teenagers with ADHD.
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