July 1, 2011

The Oregon Department of Transportation publishes a pamphlet called “Five Steps to Being a Safer Pedestrian.” It seems to have been written years before ODOT became alarmed at the number ofpedestrian accidents on Oregon roads.

The five steps are: stay alert, be predictable, follow the signals, make sure you’re seen and be careful at the curb. They make sense to most of us. For some, though, the rules are harder to put into action. Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder fall in that group.

A recent study looked at the crossing habits of kids with ADHD and compared them with kids with what the researchers call normal development. The study group included 117 kids age 7 to 10; 79 had ADHD.

The researchers expected to find that the impulsivity of children with ADHD, combined with their being easily distracted, would lead to riskier behavior.

But that didn’t happen. The children with ADHD followed the safety rules. They waited before crossing and looked left and right. All of the basics were in line with the other study group. So why is it that kids with ADHD are more likely to be injured as pedestrians than kids with normal development or other developmental disabilities?

The study concludes that the kids with ADHD take in the data — they look left and right, pay attention to the signals and so forth — but they don’t process the information the same way their counterparts do. They don’t translate what they see into safe crossing opportunities.

Other research has shown that kids with ADHD have trouble managing their time. Timing is a critical element of safely crossing the street. In this study, kids with ADHD would attempt to cross when the gaps between cars were smaller; the upshot was they had less time to get to the opposite side before the next car came.

Modifications to the environment and to vehicle engineering can help to reduce the fatality rate of children with ADHD, the study notes. Mostly, though, the researchers believe behavior modification is crucial to the effort.


LA Times, “Crossing the street safely can be a challenge for kids with ADHD,” Shari Roan, 07/25/2011

Pediatrics, “Mediating Factors Associated With Pedestrian Injury in Children With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder,” Stavrinos et al., 07/25/2011


Categories: Blog