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Driving outcomes of young people with attentional difficulties in adolescence.

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  • 1Department of Psychological Medicine, Christchurch School of Medicine, New Zealand.



To examine associations between attentional difficulties at age 13 and a range of adverse driving outcomes measured at 21 years.


Data were gathered over the course of a 21-year longitudinal study of a birth cohort of 1,265 New Zealand children. Data collection included the following: (1) parent and teacher report measures of attentional difficulties (13 years); (2) measures of driving behavior, including involvement in an accident, drinking and driving, and traffic violations (18-21 years); and (3) measures of a range of potentially confounding individual, sociofamilial, and driving-related factors.


Young people with high levels of attentional difficulties were at greater risk of involvement in a motor vehicle accident, drinking and driving, and traffic violations. These associations were largely explained by the personal characteristics (gender, conduct problems) and driving experience (length of time respondent held a license, distance driven) of young people with attentional difficulties. Even after adjustment for the effects of confounding factors, adolescent attentional difficulties placed young people at increased risk of an injury accident, driving without a license, and other traffic violations.


Associations between adolescent attentional difficulties and subsequent driving risks largely reflect the effects of confounding factors correlated with attentional difficulties and driving outcomes. However, even after adjustment for confounding, adolescent attentional difficulties contributed to later injury accident risk and possibly also to risky driving behavior.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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