If your teen has suffered a concussion, their doctor has likely told you they need to stay out of school and sports. When it comes to how long they need to take a break from driving, medical guidance can sometimes be more vague.
However, getting behind the wheel again before you’re fully recovered from a concussion can be extremely dangerous. That’s true for drivers of any age – but even more so for young drivers who have less experience behind the wheel and may be less aware that something is off, even if they feel like they’re as good as new.
Study found a difference in reaction time
One study compared the driving ability of college students who had suffered a concussion with that of those who hadn’t. Those who had suffered concussions were placed on a driving simulator two days after they reported no longer having symptoms. Their reaction times were .03 seconds slower (about three feet in stopping distance) than the test subjects who hadn’t suffered concussions. This miniscule difference is all it takes to avoid a crash.
Concussions can also affect things like judgment, decision-making, coordination and other skills needed to be a safe driver – even after obvious symptoms like headaches, light sensitivity and dizziness are gone. Just the stress of driving, not to mention sights and sounds like headlights and horns, can trigger concussion symptoms.
Make sure the return to driving is gradual
As a parent, it’s crucial for you to put some restrictions on your teen’s driving after a concussion until both of you are confident that their driving isn’t impaired – especially in Colorado’s unpredictable winter weather. This means things like not letting them drive alone until you’ve seen how they do.
Whether your teen suffered a concussion in a car crash, a fall, playing sports or some other way, if their injury was caused by someone else’s negligence or actions, it’s important to ensure that you seek compensation for expenses and damages. Don’t settle with an insurer or at-fault party until you’ve sought legal guidance.