Research: Driving Simulation Helps Teens with ADHD Drive Better

New research using a video game driving simulation is helping teen drivers with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) cope with the rigors, trials, and challenges of driving. The research is being conducted by Gregory A. Fabiano, UB associate professor of counseling, school and educational psychology at the University of Buffalo. The new leg of the research recently received a $2.8 million grant from the National Institute of Health’s National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Fabiano has already established a therapeutic program that helps these teens become better drivers and builds better relationship with their parents.

Fabiano’s grant-funded project is a joint effort between a Graduate School of Education research team and UB’s New York State Center for Engineering Design and Industrial Innovation. The research has already gleaned some interesting but unsurprising information about teen drivers. The most startling data is that teens that text and drive are more impaired on the road than drunk drivers are. Using the simulation, the researcher encouraged the subjects to text at the same time. When they crashed, the researchers found that teens did not realize how dangerous their multi-tasking behavior was until they were in a virtual crash.

"We had worked with children with ADHD for a long time at the university," says Fabiano. "And as those kids grew up, we heard concerns from parents about the transition to independent driving. So we did some research and found out results not surprising to anybody. Teen drivers are the worst on the road. And some recent research has shown that compared to that worst group of drivers, teen drivers with ADHD were significantly more at risk for everything."

Fabiano’s five-year study began in April. It focuses on ADHD teenage drivers with learner’s permits. The teens practice on a driving simulator and are given an onboard driving monitor to track driving behaviors. The collected data can then be viewed by teens, researchers and parents. The goal is to better educate teen drivers with ADHD on how to get a handle on behavior that isn’t safe while driving. While texting and driving is dangerous for the average teen, adding the layer of a disorder on top of that makes it particularly hazardous.

Source: Medical News Today

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