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Public Transit and ADHD

I’m lucky to live in a city where it’s easy to get around by public transit. There are a lot of reasons to love public transit, from the cost savings and the convenience to the environmental benefits and the fact that fewer cars generally make for a nicer place to live.

Some of the reasons also have to do with ADHD. When I think about why I enjoy taking public transit, as someone with ADHD I can’t help but think about some of the advantages in terms of my ADHD symptoms.

SubwayFor one thing, taking public transit instead of driving myself frees up time, which is valuable for anyone, but especially someone with ADHD who can struggle with time management. When necessary, I use time on the bus or metro to catch up on emails and other tasks I can do from my phone.

Otherwise, I read. Before I made a habit of reading on public transit, I was the stereotypical ADHDer who would always start books and never finish them. Now that I have a dedicated time for reading when I take public transit, my ratio of books finished to books started is much, much better.

There’s another, safety-related reason that public transit is helpful from an ADHD perspective. Unfortunately, one of the most dangerous ways ADHD symptoms play out is on the roads, when drivers who have ADHD make inattentive or impulsive maneuvers.

From the perspective of reducing traffic accidents, public transit is a better way to get around than private cars in general. But to the extent that people with ADHD are at higher risk for traffic accidents, public transit is especially beneficial for us.

Now, meds do seem to seem to lower the odds of people with ADHD getting into car accidents. However, the fact is that many people with ADHD remain unmedicated, and we shouldn’t rely on solving the problem of ADHD-related traffic accidents solely using individual-by-individual measures. If there’s a society-wide action we can take that cuts the odds of ADHD-related traffic accidents while also addressing several other problems our cities face, shouldn’t we do that – namely, by improving public transit infrastructure?

So to me, public transit is a clear winner for people with ADHD, which is why I think we should enthusiastically support any efforts to make public transit better, especially in countries like the United States where we lag in this regard.

That said, public transit isn’t perfect, and it can present some of its own challenges for ADHDers. In my experience, the main one is that it can require more planning ahead in order to get somewhere on time, which of course is a potential issue for those of us with ADHD.

Sometimes I fail with the time management aspect – and sometimes, even if my planning is good, public transit fails me! Which is why I always have my public transit plan B: if I’m running behind schedule to something important, I call an Uber/Lyft/taxi/etc.

Still, the imperfections of public transit shouldn’t distract from the big picture: taking the bus, train or metro has advantages for people with ADHD, and it’s probably the future of our society anyway. So we might as well, literally and figuratively, get on board.

Image: Flickr/Christian Ramiro González Véron

Public Transit and ADHD


Neil Petersen

Neil Petersen writes regularly on education, learning disabilities and technology. He received his B.A. in 2014 and was diagnosed with ADHD at the beginning of his college studies. Neil also works for a music education non-profit and hopes to help create an education system that can better serve students with ADHD.


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APA Reference
Petersen, N. (2019). Public Transit and ADHD. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 22, 2019, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/adhd-millennial/2019/10/public-transit-and-adhd/

 

Last updated: 10 Oct 2019
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network (blogs.psychcentral.com) prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.