Researchers reveal that mental health issues are associated with risky driving behaviors, according to a study conducted on March 27, 2018.
60 young drivers between the age of 16 and 17 who had received their license within the past 90 days were included in the study. A high-fidelity driving simulator that assessed their responses to different crash scenarios were used for testing the teens. Also, they were asked to fill a self-report questionnaire on behaviors that are risky during driving. The teens were assessed on the basis of their mental health symptoms. Researchers focused on three mental health conditions namely, ADHD, conduct disorder, and depression. Finally, parents were asked to fill a questionnaire about their children’s mental health.
Self-report of inattention was the only mental health symptom that could be related to errors on the driving simulator assessment. Increase in score for inattention would increase the rate of driving performance errors. Teens with higher self-rated scores for hyperactivity and conduct disorder had high score for risky driving behaviors as well. Researchers found that symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity was linked to risky driving behaviors.
The major reason for death in adolescents is motor vehicle crashes, however, it is still not clear if mental health factors affect crash risk. Mental health is mainly important for newly licensed teen drivers. Catherine C. McDonald, lead author said, “With conduct disorder, rule violations may be an attempt to take advantage of a situation or express hostility.” Risky driving behaviors could be reduced to a large extent by understanding the importance of mental health factors.