ADHD and Driving


If I could add more than one heart I would. When I buy groceries, it’s with a purpose. Normally I only buy groceries on a weekday evening - just to avoid people and lines. Don’t get me started on long weekend or pre-Christmas shopping!

My wife and kids would like to go to Great Wolf Lodge (hotel with a waterpark) on a prime season weekend. Not only does the idea of a 40 minute line for a 20 second ride irritate me, but the cost is over 2x more for prime times. Why would I want to pay over $500 per night, for the joy of ridiculously long lines (vs $200 with short lines during non prime times)?


It’s the root of all evil. I have to be extremely unprepared, or in some other dire situation to have to go anywhere near the shops in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

These days I do pretty much all my shopping online, except for food and most groceries. Because I usually compress my working hours (I work 80-90 hours a week), I typically get a week off at home. So I can go to the shops at 10am on a weekday for example, when it’s quiet.

There is no way I’d book a holiday at Christmas. Everything is over booked, over priced and over horrible. But then I don’t have kids.


See I find pedestrians easier to get around. I snake my way through large crowds. It’s almost like a game, whereas with a car there are set lanes and speeds. I did the same rollerblading at the rollerskating rink. I’d dodge through the other skaters, so I wouldn’t have to slow down.

If it’s a really packed crowd and I can’t move at all I get claustrophobic and feel like I’m not getting enough air. Otherwise I’m weaving and dodging and yelling at anyone who is with me to keep up. I feel more in control on my feet than in a car and the stakes are lower.


Yes! Grocery shopping with purpose! The only times I feel like I’m on the verge of losing my temper with my boyfriend are when we’re grocery shop together. He walks slow. He makes decisions slowly. He’s super indecisive. He’ll be pondering brands and types of mustard and in a flash I’m seething and overcome with rage. I have to remind myself he’s not trying to torture me on purpose. I almost started crying in frustration one time, which was really bizarre for me because I cry so rarely. It was weird to have such a strong emotional response, especially since I like this person and he’s doing nothing wrong.


I listen to music while I’m driving. If I overthink I freak out and that’s when I do stupid ass things. I haven’t been in a wreck in 6 years, but I think that’s just incredible luck. They always seem to be when I have people in the car. I will listen to crap music to keep my daughter quiet just so I can sing along to the music and chill out. My anxiety almost makes my ADHD worse. I’m already distracted by EVERYTHING. So if I think too damn much then I’m going to be in another planet. I won’t lie though I’m playing music off my phone so sometimes I really have to watch out for not letting switching songs be too much of a thing and noticing texts. I prefer faster speeds less time to look at what people in front of you are doing in there car. That sounds weird but sometimes people look at me in their rear view because I’m staring in to their soul. I always feel like a weirdo then and my face is so so red.


@Serena Me tooooo! Singing along to music is the only thing that calms me in the car. Singing is almost like a fidget or a way to release pent up energy/anxiety.

ADHD/anxiety has a synergistic effect when I drive: they both make each other so much worse

And I hate interacting with other drivers in any way, even eye contact. Go away.


In my experience, learning how to drive was extremely stressful. It didn’t help that I first learned on a gearbox, so I had to deal with stalling in the road. Nowadays I have a lot of fun driving a stickshift, but otherwise I prefer to avoid getting behind the wheel if I can. If I do, I usually avoid listening to music because I’ll either have too much fun singing along and get paranoid that I’m not paying enough attention, or I’ll inevitably want to change the song.

I’m a very passive driver - I’m pretty sure my Anxiety X Inattentive combo is responsible for that, so I err on the side of caution - but I have gotten into a wreck before. I thought the lane was clear but I turned too soon and grazed another car.


I am not the most careful driver. I have zoned out at times in the past. I have backed up into two different trucks, backed up into an off duty traffic cop, drove into a carport, I wasn’t going very fast. I had my wake up call and my first serious accident last year, I was going around a curve on a dangerous part of a highway. It was lightly raining and the road was slippery. Apparently I drifted to the right too much, got distracted, and my car spun out. I hit another car and then crashed into a guard rail. I was very shaken, and had a lot of bruising on my leg, but I was ok and the other people were ok. My car was totaled. Since then I have a different car, but safety was my top priority. It has a backup camera, which I need, obviously. I have found that listening to something such as a podcast or music helps me focus, because it helps keep me in the moment. So yeah I’d say my ADHD affects my driving. But I’m doing better! Safer car, attempting to be villigant, and trying to be more aware.


I am so glad I am not the only one who has trouble with driving. When all my friends (actually just had one) started driving and got their license on the fisrt try I failed mine and after trying again and again (total of 7 times) I still can’t pass the test :pensive: The thing is that I do everything perfect in practice but when it come to the test I just can’t seem to pass. I am 21 now and it really sucks to have to depend on my sister if I want to go anywhere.


Yup I have problems driving. I’m Still getting my driving lessons, But I zone out easily. I might see the stripes on the road And already zone out About that. Most People with ADHD Get special driving lessons And a special exam a little adapter to their problems.

My driver instructor works with Many People with mental disorders. Also with me, But I jusr, not even officially yet, got diagnosed with ADHD. He doesn’t know yet​:joy::joy:
But we’ve talked a lot about that I might have it. And every lesson there is at least one moment where I suddenly zone out, And I see everything on the road, But I don’t take it in And don’t react to it. That’s where it Goes wrong for me. In december I have My exam, so I hope I won’t zone out durin My exam, But That’s almost impossible​:joy::joy:


I would say I am a good driver, but I can get very aggressive, especially if I’m alone in the car. I’m usually more careful when driving my son. I have been in three accidents over the years, but not due to what I would categorize as any ADHD symptoms. Once I spun out on black ice. Once I failed to realize that the car ahead of me was going to come to A COMPLETE STOP at a GREEN LIGHT before turning. (It was a new teen driver.) I wasn’t following too close for good conditions, but it was actually raining, and it took me a moment too long to realize they were stopping completely, and I rear ended them. (Ok, now that I think about it, my inattention might have contributed to that one.) And the third time someone else spun out on snow and crashed into me.

I think the reason I like driving and am successful at it is two-fold, and it involves working WITH my ADHD brain. I firmly believe these keep me from falling into a stupor of boredom when driving.

  1. I always drive a manual transmission. This engages my body and mind in driving, especially on surface streets with lots of lights and turns.
    a. With automatic transmission you only move one foot a little to accelerate and brake, and arms a little for steering. But with my manual, both of my feet are actively engaged in driving (unless I’m on a freeway), one to work the clutch and the other doing speed and braking.
    b. My hands have to split time between the wheel and the stick shift.
    c. Plus I need to actively engage my brain to know which gear I should be in at any given speed. I use both visual (speed and rpms) and auditory (sound of the engine) cues to determine this.

  2. Gamification. I have always seen driving almost like a game, a competition versus myself or the other drivers on the road.
    a. How can I get through this pack of cars quickly?
    b. What’s the best route to my destination? Can I shave minutes off my average travel time?
    c. Can my little compact beat that sports car out of the green light through the expert use of my stick shift? (Often, yes, because automatic shifters are very conservative in their operation/acceleration.)
    d. I practice gas conserving techniques, like dropping into neutral on a downhill and letting gravity move my car. How far can I let it coast before I have to engage the engine again to maintain speed?
    e. Highways are fun. I love finding holes in moderate to heavy traffic and moving ahead, like navigating a maze. Anyone see Cars 3? Find a hole!
    f. I generally drive around 9-10 miles over the speed limit and maintaining that is like a challenge, too.

The only times I encounter difficulty when driving is during long trips or if I am engaged in conversation with someone.

  1. The tedium of a long road trip can be hard. I struggle not to fall asleep at the wheel. I use interesting audio books or music I like to sing to to keep me focused. I also like to use my speed to calculate my driving time whenever I see a sign showing how many miles away X city is.

  2. If I am having a conversation with a passenger (or hands free on my phone) I can and often do miss my turn. Last night I drove by my own driveway TWICE because my son was talking to me. I have also, on occasion, almost missed registering a stop sign or red light. I think I’ve blown a stop sign once or twice. But I either catch it last second or my passenger will direct my attention to it, usually by suddenly screaming “STOP!”.


Oh boy,


Me too. I’d agree with the gamification approach you take. To me, driving is like a game. When I get frustrated, it becomes a game I have to win.

It’s not so much that I have to be faster than everyone else, I just like to be away from them, and absolutely hate being stuck behind someone.

I will play “find the gap before it’s a gap”, and try to take advantage of any patterns I see in traffic, thinking 3 steps ahead. It’s a hyperfocus thing, for sure.

But once I get a clear stretch of road with no other drivers nearby, I feel safer and happier. I can just sit on 100km/h for hours if need be, no problem. I just don’t trust other drivers at all, and am happier away from them.

I’m used to long road trips with no traffic, I got my license in a town 1800km from the nearest city, 200km from the nearest town. So driving for me is second nature.


Yup. You definitely get me! :laughing: I’m the same way. I completely distrust other drivers, too, and part of my desire to “find the gap” is definitely to be not near them.


I drive a lot for work and I’m not bad. I need to be aware of myself all the time. Like when I’m listening to an audio book and suddenly realise I’m not really listening anymore, I then try it with music or take a break.
I had some nearly crashes at slow speed as well, but reacted quickly enough to avoid it.

My biggest problem is long distance driving on the motorway (so what I do most days), because it’s so boring. My eyes usually just felt shut. No matter how awake I was minutes ago. Been into some seriously dangerous situations and only RedBull-stuff could help for a bit.
That’s the main reason (among others) while I’m so glad about my meds. Haven’t been in that situation with them.


Just an update, seemed 25mg of amphetamine was the sweet spot. Managed to drive to Colorado (9 hours) over the holidays without too many issues.


I am a great driver, because I drive analyzing everyone, and everything hyper focused especially if my kids in the car. But, every once in a while, I can get home and not remember how or what roads I took… because I start wondering off.
Only 1 accidents when I was young with my first car I was driving behind a slower driving car as I was daydreaming and hit the lady in front of me… and wow I braked and we both braked so I kept hitting her again… wait but that was her fault… why brake when I already hit you once! Lol…:joy::see_no_evil:


I actually like driving, which is probably why I hyperfocus on it. But I get too frustrated with other drivers, and sometimes cut it a little too finely when I try to get away from them, or find a gap.

On the whole I drive well enough, but I just know that if I ever get into an accident, it will be because I’ve jumped the gun through frustration, and not looked for something that I should have.

Wandering off… I’ve been late to job interviews a few times lately, because I’ve been concentrating on preparing for the questions I’ll need to answer, and overshot the freeway exit. Then I have to drive a few kms to find the next one I can use to hang a U turn and get back onto the freeway the other way, to get the the exit I need.


That’s interesting I am pretty patient while i drive, I drive slow when I am not in a hurry and fast when I am…but I guess it depends right?
Only things that make me impatient and drive me insane is waiting for someone to finish giving instructions… like morning meetings ugh!! Just let me go…set me free!!!


We have “handover” meetings twice a shift and “toolbox” meetings as well. Then whatever other meetings they decide to throw at us. I actually don’t mind them, as when I’m in a meeting, I’m not running around like an idiot in the middle of an Australian desert summer hot enough to melt the road, lugging around tolls and respirator, dodging rocks, spinning steel and poison gas. So sitting in the aircon with a coffee is fine by me.

Not as fine as sitting on the couch at home with a cat and a coffee… But food on the table is also good.

I think of myself as a safe driver most of the time, just every now and again I get impatient and take a risk that I shouldn’t.

Ha ha. I just love it when somebody starts to give me 10 step road directions. “Turn left, then right, then follow the road until you get to the Caltex, then turn right. After the supermarket, take the third road to the left…”. My eyes glaze over at step one, and I’m gone.