By Taylor J.
My husband drove a 1979 Ford Bronco for most of our marriage. (That is, until it caught fire in a Home Depot parking lot. He saved the burned-out shell of it so he could fix it up….”some day.”) Before treatment, I concluded his tendency to get into wrecks while driving other people’s cars was entirely because he was accustomed to the slow, heavy hunk of metal he’d been driving for so long.
In reality, that slow, heavy hunk of metal may have weighed him down, and saved his life.
I prayed every hour that he’d be safe on the road, and counted the minutes till his return.
Welcome back to the “You, Me, and ADHD” Book Club—and Giveaway Contest! Two winners are drawn from each post’s comments to receive a copy of my book (paperback or Kindle).
Have you been reading along?
Here, Taylor writes about driving and her dual-ADHD marriage, based on Chapter 5: “Driving While Distracted: The Roller Coaster Hits the Road.” We call it “Driving to Destruction.”
Enjoy! And be sure to check out the video above: It is both hilarious and scarily true-to-life.
Now Back to Taylor.
“Checking Out”—On the Road
Another problem was driving long distances: He would simply fall asleep behind the wheel, with no warning. I would be reading or sewing, and suddenly the car would start to drift into the other lane. I’d look over to see his head lolling back and forth.
We devised a system. I would scratch his arm from the elbow up, and he would design his dream roll-top desk in his head. Then, as soon as we found a safe place to stop, I would take the wheel.
We later discovered this is probably another manifestation of ADHD, with boredom leading to, in a sense, “checking out.” Our self-styled strategy, developed before we knew anything about ADHD, served to keep his brain engaged in something more interesting than following that line in the road—and kept us alive.
It Must Be Said: I Wasn’t the Best Driver, Either.
I would get distracted with a phone call, a CD, or talking to someone in the backseat. I once even read the first two chapters of a book while waiting at multiple red lights in an urban area. Dumb, dumb, dumb! Nearly all of my wrecks have been rear-end collisions, with me at-fault.
“No other life activity affected by adult ADHD has been studied more thoroughly than driving. Consistently, these studies show that stimulant medication is effective in mitigating ADHD-related driving deficits.”
Neither of us have had a wreck since we started medication treatment.
As with finances, Gina points out, driving is not a problem in every adult who has ADHD. And, every bad driver is not an untreated ADHDer in disguise. But “by and large, when it comes to untreated ADHD, the preponderance of evidence suggests critical, even life-threatening disruption.”
ADHD specialist Russell Barkley even proposed that “excessive speeding” be included as a common ADHD symptom.
It Truly Is A Matter of Life and Death
How can we recognize ADHD driving behaviors in ourselves and in our partners? Gina helps us to spot these with a symptom-list from educational consultant Marlene Snyder, the author of ADHD & Driving: a Guide for Parents of Teens with ADHD (2001) [now out of print].
Studies indicate 4-10 percent of children have ADHD. If 4-10 percent of new teen drivers are distracted on the road, wouldn’t that mean that their lives are at risk? Wouldn’t that mean that other people’s lives—like my kid crossing the street to get a stray soccer ball—are at risk as well?
It bears repeating: “Consistently, these studies show that stimulant medication is effective in mitigating ADHD-related driving deficits.” Understanding this just became a matter of life and death.
For This Chapter’s Discussion Points:
- Has ADHD negatively affected driving at your house, or is this a symptom you get to miss? (If so, yay for you!)
- What kind of problematic driving behaviors do you see—in yourself, your partner, or your teen?
- Has medication helped to improve driving safety? Or have other strategies been used?
We welcome your thoughts below in a comment; there are no annoying codes to enter.
Your story will help others. While it is useful to have read each Chapter by the time Taylor writes about it, please feel free to respond to the discussion even if you haven’t.
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