If your teen suffered a concussion, they (and you) may have received little guidance on when it’s safe for them to return to driving. Doctors typically provide guidance to teens on when they should return to school and to sports and other physical activity. However, there’s little if any guidance on how long they should refrain from driving.
A serious risk for teens who are already relatively inexperienced drivers getting back behind the wheel before their concussion has sufficiently healed is that it could impact their driving behavior.
Teens are likely to resume driving before other activities
One study looked at 300 teens from 16 to 19 who had received medical care for a concussion to determine what their post-concussion activities looked like and how their concussion affected their driving. Results were based on follow-up visits with the teens approximately 12 days after their injury. Researchers found that:
- Almost half (47%) reported that they were driving again. That was far more than the number who said they’d resumed exercising (15%) or playing sports (6%).
- Most of the teens who were driving again (59%) said they had not changed their driving habits since the concussion, like limiting where or when they drove.
- Nearly three-quarters (73%) of the teens who were driving again had been prescribed cognitive rest or special accommodations in school by a doctor.
As the senior author of the study noted, “In the absence of structured recommendations for returning to driving, we believe that young drivers may be getting behind the wheel too soon after their injury. She added that since that the medical community has increasingly found that “driving may pose even more risks than exercise or sports….”
Whether your teen suffered a concussion in a car crash or through some other cause, it’s essential to get them the treatment they need and not expose them to any further danger by letting them drive before they’re ready to do so safely. If the concussion was caused by someone else’s actions or negligence, it’s important to get the compensation you need for medical care and more.