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Inattentive ADHD

Driving Difficulties

Hello everyone!
I’m a little hesitant to ask this question, but does anyone have trouble on the road? I’m 23 years old and I still haven’t got my driver’s license yet. In fact, today was my third road test, and I failed to notice this taxi behind me honking at me from the lane I was about to enter. I had checked both my rear-view mirrors and was about to change lanes, when the taxi started honking and I (*insert frustrated growl here*) just picked up speed to go ahead of him. I still can’t believe my reaction. Do any of you have similar problems on the road? Do you feel like you can’t respond fast enough, or when you do you do the complete opposite of what you should have done?
I’m not sure if it’s an A.D.D problem or not, so I never discuss such things with my family. Also, because my folks refuse to acknowledge my A.D.D. and tell me it’s all a matter of focus. This really frustrates me because I’m doing all I can: I meditate, I practice breathing exercises, I even take the recommended Omega-3 supplements and make sure my diet and nutrition have a minimal amount of gluten, fats and artificial colors. And I still find little to no progress. I’m always speeding and making hasty decisions. I’m always inattentive and don’t notice the cars around me. Frankly, I’m not sure I even know how to get focused. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks, everyone.



I will reply tonight or tomorrow. Just wanted you to know. The part about your parents especially upsets me.

Posted by Lincoln on Jul 22, 2014 at 2:15pm

Hello RJ,

I have some problems with driving. Mine have to do mostly with navigation. I have a very keen 6th sense about which is the wrong way to go. If I’m unsure at a fork in the road you can bet I’ll take the incorrect direction. Sometimes, I try reverse psychology and choose otherwise. Those are the times that I was correct with my initial hunch. It’s maddening.

Distractibility is also an issue. I’ve rear-ended cars, but luckily never hurt anyone.

I just wanted to respond and tell you that you are not alone. It makes me sad for you that your family doesn’t understand the reality that you live with. I know how hard that must be. I dealt with a similar situation for years and years and it did a huge number on me that I am still working through.

The fact that you are pro-active is great, I encourage you to keep at it. Meds and therapy helped me a lot. But they alone will never “cure” you. Vigilance is your best approach. You have to work very hard to develop strategies that will help you. I keep my keys attached to my belt loop at all times. I never put my glasses or wallet or phone down on a counter or next to me on a park bench or whatever. I know that is a sure recipe for disaster. I use audio alerts in my phone for almost everything. For a long time I had an alarm programmed everyday that would remind me to look at my calendar. I can keep a detailed calendar but forget to ever look at it.

ADD is an incredible blessing in some areas. I am in a creative profession and I’ve done very well. Crazy, awesome, cool ideas just show up for me. I love it. However, it’s played havoc on my marriage, and other relationships. It’s been very difficult to say the least. I hate that part about ADD.

This site is full of great information and resources. Inform yourself.

I wish you the best. Be happy. Celebrate the gift of ADD, work on the rest, and whatever, you do, don’t beat yourself up.


Posted by Lincoln on Jul 23, 2014 at 6:03am

I want to thank you, L, for reminding me that I’m not alone in facing these struggles. It’s very difficult dealing with this everyday and I appreciate your reminder that there are fellow ADDers out there going through what I am. So, thank you.
Strategies. An ADDer’s best friend! I shall look into the best strategies to help me behind the wheel. Recently, I’ve tried just turning my head this way and that to remind me to keep my eyes peeled for any way-ward cars. But even with my eyes scanning the road, my mind wanders. Frustrating. I need to find a better way…
Sounds like you’re having a hard time too. I wish you all the best with your gift, too. It’s a dangerous world out on the road for us ADDers, but as you said, we should celebrate the gift and work on the rest.


Posted by R.J on Jul 23, 2014 at 10:37am

I hope you follow through to get your drivers license. It’s really important to be independent and it’s fun driving.  I also hope you will try medication.  It could be of huge benefit.

Good Luck

Posted by jetergirl on Jul 26, 2014 at 5:59pm

I was not diagnosed diagnosed with we now know is severe ADHD, combined type, but predominately In-attentive, until my late 60’s.  Having a non-ADD twin sister helped me retrieve my history and remind me how we used to say the when asked , my sister and older brother were always thought at first greeting, that they were the twins. When it came to driving, I also failed my first tests and after numerous accidents ended up in a high risk insurance pool.  I’m fortunate to be alive and that I never injured anyone, which is more important.  Even before I was diagnosed and fortunate to find a psychiatrist to prescribe appropriate medication; I found a coach who made this reccommendation after my last speeding ticket, now over 2 years ago.  Playing an educational CD in car while driving helps me focus on good driving skills.  It may be a little like the white noise or music that Dr Hallowell suggests, but it helps.

Posted by drdavidkcoach on Jul 27, 2014 at 6:01pm

Remember the greatest gift of ADD: hyperfocus. If you can learn how to activate that, you will be a better driver (and everything else.) Start by building habits - you have to be very conscious at first, and it takes a little longer, but it’s worth it. For example, do things in order like a pilot taking off: seatbelt, radio, mirrors, then gps or whatever. If you make getting to your destination a game it keeps you focused - like “I’m going to that next intersection perfectly” - then give yourself a smile when you get there. This builds positive emotion around driving, which helps you relax and “reach out with your feelings,” as Yoda puts it. Keep breaking it down into achievables and you’ll begin to think of yourself as an excellent and very safe driver. (I sometimes forget I am an excellent driver, and then the dings pile up.) Focus-wrangling is all about setting intentions, wherever and whenever you can.

Posted by Kristen Caven on Jul 29, 2014 at 7:57pm

Oh, and the deep breath. Don’t forget to work the deep breath into the focus routine. Feel your feet on the pedals & floor.

Posted by Kristen Caven on Jul 29, 2014 at 7:58pm

I don’t think anyone is comfortable driving until many of the tiny decisions and reactions have become subconscious and automatic, like breathing. The early stages, where every little thing has to be in the forefront of your mind, are especially difficult for us, but with lots of practice, that doesn’t last forever. I got my first car when I was 31, and I was terrified because I didn’t feel alert or capable of responding to everything that would come at me, or remembering everything I was supposed to do exactly when I was supposed to do it. (I hadn’t yet been diagnosed.) Now, seventeen years later, I enjoy driving, and amazingly, the only two accidents I’ve had were determined to be the other driver’s fault. (Rear-ended both times.)
I have gotten several tickets though.

Posted by ReadReadWrite on Aug 12, 2014 at 5:33pm

Your situation with the taxi is common for me. I don’t know what the right reaction is but I know what works for me.
The other driving difficulty I had was that I would be driving along and my mind was going everywhere, thinking, remembering, going over problems and then all of a sudden it seemed like I stopped and then had no idea where I was.  I had to take in my surroundings like I was seeing them for the first time to find where I was.  Since I have been on medication for my ADD I have not had that happen again.  I’m always driving 5 mi. over the speed limit and sometimes 10 because I’m running late.
I failed my first 2 or 3 drivers tests-and didn’t get my license until I was about 30.  Wasn’t diagnosed with ADD until I was in my 50’s.

Posted by L Amigo on Sep 01, 2014 at 3:32am

It took me my third attempt to get license., from a different country.  I never really had any issues on the road. I know that my mind is still racing behind the wheel. On long journeys, I calculate distanced in kilometres. I tend to slow down a bit at green lights, my rationale is for the safety of pedestrians.  Keep practicing and if you have not yet, take a driving course .i took another one here in America because getting my license transferred would have been a lot more paperwork than taking the test.  I took a few lessons and I told the instructor that I have a license already. I did not feel confident. We drive around and all he did was get me ready for the driving test. He showed me the course they use, and he had me practice the skills. I paid for a block if lesion, I think I had 5 lessons. I got used to the environment and when it came to the test, I passed.  All I can say, is don’t give up, learn the course and be patient. If it helps, try taking the test in a more rural setting.  The test won’t last all day.

Posted by Isp75016 on Sep 01, 2014 at 1:34pm

For me, I think my AD/HD makes me a better driver with quicker response time. For example, when I’m taking my medication, I notice that I can’t notice everything around me like I could without medication. I grew up in the country with lots of deer jumping out into the road. For me, I could always drive calmly and slowly enough with great peripheral vision and be aware of everything around me. I have extremely heightened senses and awareness of sounds and sights around me with AD/HD. With medication I’ve noticed that I can’t be aware of all things because I “focus” more easily on one thing. Now with medication I have to tell my son, “please help me watch for deer and don’t talk to me because we need to work on making sure we notice them”. Before it wasn’t work, I could do both things at once. Good luck to you!

Posted by TeaAmongRoses on Sep 05, 2014 at 4:43pm

yeah i have trouble in this area, but i think the commonwealth of virginia is reforming me.  basically i am tired of getting tickets and am realizing i am capable of slowing down and making myself look before i change lanes, etc.  meds have not worked for me, meditation some so know what it is like to feel like nothing is working.


Posted by mark4francis on Sep 15, 2014 at 3:22pm

As you know, driving a car takes much focus and spacial awareness and people w/ ADD struggle with focus and spatial awareness! Not a great combo when you’re driving a ‘lethal’ weapon pretty much. You are now an adult and you will ALWAYS encounter people who do not believe in ADD/ADHD…it’s absolutely mind-numbing. I would suggest you go see a psychiatrist and be evaluated for ADD/ADHD, as well as dyslexia since you say you tend to ‘reverse’ your reactions. Then if indicated, start taking medication to help improve focus and attention. There is nothing more important than your safety AND the safety of others behind the wheel of a car. Both my daughters have ADD/ADHD—the 28 yr old has a tendency to speed and drive impulsively…she’s earned herself SO many tickets and it’s been rather costly! The youngest is 18 and does not have her license yet. She’s taken extensive driver’s ed and failed her first driving test at age 17. She is practicing again to re-take her driving test.

Posted by ceebee on Nov 29, 2014 at 3:15am

The hyper focus works well for me. When I started driving I was terrified and there was just too much going on around me. I was only diagnose with Inattentive ADD and anxiety 11 years after getting my license. But since independence has always been a big thing for me, I somehow taught myself to hyperfocus. Basically I get in my car and as soon as my hands touch my steering wheel it’s like a sci-fi movie, and all my senses zoom in to the task at hand. At first I had to actively do this mentally but as it became a routine it now happens automatically. Even if I am tired, the moment I touch the steering wheel I am wide awake, and the times that does not happen, it means I am too tired and need to make another plan.

Posted by Skyeandante on Feb 06, 2015 at 8:52am

I have been driving for over 50 years and through most of those years I did not know I had ADHD or predominately ‘Inattentive ADD’.  Now that I have a little (actually a lot) of education about ADHD from taking the prerequisites to ADD Coaching at the ADD Coach Academy ie; Simply ADHD & Personnal Transformation’ as well as the first level’Basic ADD Coach Program’; I am aware of how my ADD was a significant factor in a historically poor driving record.  Numerous accidents, speeding tickets & parking violations and very fortunate to not have injured others.  A lot of it was paying attention to everything, but my driving.  Don’t take me wrong, I know how serious this is.  I heard & read the story of Dr Russell Barkley’s twin brother who died in an auto accident and it could easily have been my story.  I was not formally diagnosed until the age of 69 and today with medication & coaching, I have learned different strategies to help me focus and especially for behind the wheel.  My most recent strategy was learning that listening to music or an educational CD helps me focus on driving.  I write in traveling time in my appointments to have enough time going & returning and try to plan sequential stops for chores like shopping that are decided on by where I am going.  One of many accidents that I will share was hitting the back of a city bus that was parked at an angle to the street and because my attention was else-where, I hit the back left rear of the bus.  The air-bag deployed and severely fractured my left wrist and since I was not arrested for driving under the influence (self-medicating), I was able to get to a good surgeon , had a good recovery.  Although it required wrist surgery & rehab, elbow nerve surgery and third surgery for shoulder repair.  But I am alive, still married to the same woman who has put up with this sometimes very difficult learning curve, and able to share what are important lessons to others who get behind the wheel.  I hope it helps?  Find a qualified doctor for evaluation, get treated & support that is appropriate, be aware of how your emotions affect your driving, build on your strengths and then enjoy the road, safely.

Posted by drdavidkcoach on Feb 07, 2015 at 3:00am

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