ADHD and road safety and beyond
It all started nearly 50 years ago when I asked “Why do some of our drivers never have accidents?”. They were driving down the same roads with the same trucks/loads etc.
Move on and through my travels and involvement in developing training programmes, I came to the obvious conclusion that it was all due to natural ability, behaviour and mental aptitude.
This led me to work with my son-in-law in a new company using psychometric profiling tools to try to enable employers to have a fair ability to highlight those employees who are most likely to have accidents. This applies to new recruits as well as existing employees and is relevant not only to road safety but to accidents involving blue collar workers in many sectors.
One of the psychometric tests also offers a fair indication of those suffering from ADHD. So we began to look at ADHD, which is a notifiable condition which must/should be advised to the DVSA together with a doctor’s advice on medication. A request to the DVSA revealed that over the past 10 years only 8000 notifications had been received by the DVSA. That is against an estimate that 5% of the adult population could suffer from degrees of ADHD, therefore there could be anything up to 1 million licensed/unlicensed people driving on the roads, whose attitudes and behaviour makes them more likely to be involved in an accident (generally accepted at least twice).
From this we questioned diagnosis in young people and this seems to be quite frightening. It seems that except in the case major symptoms there is limited diagnosis.
We know that the symptoms of ADHD in young people are difficulty to concentrate and restlessness, school teachers I know confirm that a pupil or more with ADHD in a class not only require more attention but also disrupt teaching for the others. Those with ADHD are less likely to get many qualifications and therefore will normally be less employable and move into blue collar employment, frequently with greater hazard exposure.
Medical evidence suggests that ADHD could be caused by smoking during pregnancy. This relates more to dysfunctional households who will eventually be less able to provide adequate additional parental support. So starts the dreadful road to accidents and other social problems.
Looking at road safety, because of their disadvantages we know ADHD sufferers find it more difficult to pass their driving tests, both theory and practical. Therefore ignoring the risks they will be tempted to drive without a licence. Again we know that they have less concentration and observation and will take more risks, in some situations they may even be tempted to show off and speed.
Surprisingly there seems no evidence of any police investigation ever questioning ADHD nor even in the coroner’s courts.
Clearly equal opportunities legislation means that in so many aspects it is difficult to ask too many questions but surely awareness of the risks, particularly in hazardous environments and the enforcement of the DVSA requirements would go some way towards saving lives.
Although those diagnosed with ADHD in childhood represent anything near 5% of the population, few will declare this to the DVSA although it is a legal requirement (see FOI response).
Below are just a few questions which I believe MPs and those responsible should answer and be aware of.
How many accidents involving young drivers involve those with ADHD diagnosis?
How many unlicensed drivers suffer from ADHD?
Who makes ADHD diagnosis of school children and are the child’s GP involved?
Are coroners aware of the links between ADHD and dangerous driving?
Do driving instructors ask trainees if they have ever been diagnosed with ADHD?
Do insurance companies routinely check on ADHD for motor insurance policy holders?
Do major transport operators ask about ADHD when recruiting?