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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common neurodevelopmental disorder typically associated with behaviors such as impulsivity and chronic inattention. Although ADHD is more prevalent in children, this condition can persist through adulthood and sometimes impede everyday routines. But with ongoing treatment, people with ADHD can keep their symptoms from interfering with daily tasks—including driving, which entails prolonged periods of sitting still and paying attention to the road.


So while it’s true that ADHD does not necessarily hinder someone from effective driving, research suggests that people with ADHD are more likely to be involved in car accidents. Hence, there is a need to discuss how effective car safety systems are.


Airbags, being the primary feature of safety for cars, should also be checked. In general, airbags are supposed to keep passengers safe from further injuries should there be any accidents. However, non-functioning airbags can put your loved ones at risk of having major injuries from road accidents, as seen in defective GM airbag lawsuits. You can get more information about such cases here.


This begs the question: “Is my car safety system effective?” In this article, we’ll discuss why it’s crucial to have functional car safety features, especially for people with ADHD and other conditions.

Risks of car accidents are higher for people with ADHD. Image source: Unsplash


ADHD and Risks in Driving


Studies have shown that drivers with ADHD face heightened risks of experiencing car accidents compared to drivers without the condition. Teens and adults with ADHD often face challenges such as distractibility and inattentiveness on the road, which can be staved off by proper medication and treatment. 


Driving with untreated ADHD symptoms can resemble intoxicated or reckless driving, which often leads to serious repercussions for both the driver and other people sharing the road. As such, it’s vital to put focus on cars’ safety precautions that can save more than one life in times when drivers find their own behaviors hard to control.


The Role of Airbags in Preventing Risks


Airbags, also referred to as supplementary restraint systems (SRS), are vital safety features that most vehicles are equipped with to prevent collisions from severely impacting drivers and passengers. Essentially, an airbag inflates once the car slows down and deflates when the driver’s head lands against it. 


It’s important for airbags to  activate when triggered and deflate at the right time. And because airbags are merely supplementary systems, drivers must understand that they also need to wear seatbelts to ensure utmost safety while driving. 


Airbags are known to reduce fatalities during head-on crashes by 23-24 percent. However, some experts believe that airbags may not work effectively and are sometimes dangerous when deployed with certain disability driving controls. That said, drivers can still apply workarounds to get maximum safety and convenience out of their cars.

Airbags are proven to significantly reduce car crash fatalities. Image source: Wikimedia Commons


Issues with Disability Driving Controls


Some people with disabilities, including ADHD, have their cars modified to include features to help them drive with ease. These features include mechanical and electronic hand controls, voice command systems, spinner knobs and grips, and other similar tools for acceleration, deceleration, steering, and braking. 


For drivers with ADHD, technologies such as voice-activated navigation tools can aid in directing them to their destinations without getting lost or distracted. It’s also recommended for such drivers to use manual transmission, with studies showing that drivers tend to be more complacent and less focused with automated transportation features.


However, some features tend to obstruct airbags and may keep them from preventing driver injury. For example, some mechanical hand controls run below the dashboard and across steering wheel or knee airbags, impeding the latter from getting deployed efficiently.


Despite these caveats, drivers with disabilities don’t have to feel restricted in their vehicle options. Experts recommend such drivers to consult with their therapists or other relevant medical professionals BEFORE having safety features added or removed to determine the best courses of action.


Making Cars More Inclusive


Car companies can also do their part and go the extra mile in driver safety. For one, manufacturers can offer the option to provide electronic hand controls, which are safer than mechanical controls since the former can be routed around a car’s airbag. Such controls also require minimal effort, which can help minimize fatigue for drivers. Additionally, it maybe a good idea to have airbag-compatible hand controls with removable features that can easily disable and re-enable airbag functionalities. 


Moreover, drivers with ADHD and other mental disorders can also benefit from additional car safety features. Apart from the voice-activated tools mentioned earlier, engine performance monitoring systems can be advantageous for ADHD drivers since these tools provide oversight on a car’s maximum speed while tracking sudden braking and acceleration. It may also be useful to have camera systems on board that are enabled upon detecting sudden car movements. 


Driving is primarily about exercising responsibility and self-control, but car companies can manufacture their products to make it easier for drivers—particularly those who are already having difficulties in their daily lives.

Car safety features for people with disabilities can save more than one life. Image source: Pexels


Moving Past Obstacles to Safer Driving


Disabilities, including ADHD, don’t have to impede one’s mobility. Whether you were born with a certain condition or acquired one later in life, you don’t have to give in to your limits and feel restricted in your movements. As long as you have access to regular treatment and know your options for safety precautions, you can gain the sense of empowerment and peace of mind that you need as you man the driver’s seat.


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Digital Product Creator at Kori at Home
Kori is a late diagnosed autistic/ADHD mom. She is currently located in Albany, NY where she is raising a neurodiverse family. Her older daughter is non-speaking autistic (and also has ADHD and Anxiety) and her youngest daughter is HSP/Gifted. A blogger, podcaster, writer, product creator, and coach; Kori shares autism family life- the highs, lows, messy, and real. Kori brings her own life experiences as an autistic woman combined with her adventures in momming to bring you the day-to-day of her life at home. Kori is on a mission to empower moms of autistic children to make informed parenting decisions with confidence and conviction.

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