Text messaging while driving significantly impacts adolescents’ driving performance regardless of ADHD status, reports a recent US study.
This study represents one of the first to examine the impact of talking on a mobile phone or text messaging while driving in adolescents with or without ADHD. Using a computerised driving simulator embedded with potentially hazardous/unexpected scenarios, the driving performance of adolescents (mean age 17 years; 26 males, 8 females) with ADHD (n=16) and without ADHD (n=18) was compared while (i) talking on a mobile phone; (ii) text messaging; and (iii) driving with no distraction. A number of driving performance indicators were recorded by the simulator: time to complete driving scenario, lane deviations, lane position (steering variability), reaction time, collisions and speed fluctuation.
Results indicated that text messaging was associated with significantly greater variation in lane positioning compared with no distraction (p=0.0149) and compared with taking a mobile phone call (p=0.0006). Furthermore, results of post-hoc analyses revealed that participants had significantly more lane deviations during the texting task compared with no task (p=0.0120) and mobile phone task (p=0.0006), and a significantly increased reaction time to unexpected events versus the mobile phone task (p=0.0172). No significant differences in driving performance were observed between drivers with ADHD and those without ADHD, except that adolescents with ADHD took less time to complete the driving scenario while texting.
The results of this study indicate that text messaging while driving significantly impacts adolescents’ driving performance regardless of whether or not they have ADHD. Despite the modest size of this study and the absence of a completely ‘real-world’ driving experience, this study helps to arm paediatric care providers with the knowledge to inform adolescents of the risk associated with distracted driving. Furthermore, findings of this study lay the groundwork for future studies that may yield better understanding of the specific impact of ADHD and various distractions (e.g. mobile phones, music) on driving.
Stavrinos D, Garner AA, Franklin CA, et al. Distracted driving in teens with and without attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. J Pediatr Nurs 2015; 30: e183-e191.