Date: March 4, 2021

ADHD Reality#6 - Drive You Round the Bend

I like to think I’m a pretty good driver. I’ve been at it for 40 years now and for some of that time I’ve even had a driving licence. But actually I’m probably not a good driver. Oh sure I understand the physics of driving, how to corner properly and all that stuff, but the technicalities are not the issue here.

I like to speed. I’m not as bad now, but when I was in my teens and early 20s I was an absolute nightmare on the roads. I loved driving fast and fortunately for me (but not so much for literally every other road-user), my mum used to own a 5.3litre Jaguar XJ12. That car weighed about 50 tonnes but sweet jesus could it move. I can’t remember what the top speed was that I hit in that car, but I do recall taking it to 130mph once on the A1(M) motorway in the UK and that massive engine still had more to give. On one occasion I was driving it down the motorway and the hydraulic failure lights all came on — that meant I had no brakes. I was still going 100mph at the top of the slip-road that was my exit. So I hurtled down that short stretch of road and straight out onto the roundabout and fortunately there was nothing coming the other way or it would have been a catastrophe. Mind you, the Jag went round that roundabout at about 90mph like it was on rails — what a car.

Up until about 10 years ago I never had to commute anywhere by car. This meant that my opportunity to speed was limited to day trips and visits to the supermarket and I therefore had a relatively unblemished driving record. Then I got a job two hours away in Sydney and had to commute several times a week. Long story short, I lost all my points and was put on a 12-month good-behaviour licence that meant that any further infringements would result in a six month ban and a $1500 fine. Through sheer force of will I managed to escape a ban but I had a nervous breakdown at work not long afterwards, thanks to a total nazi of a boss, so it was all a bit of a moot point. Another job gone.

ADHD as you may or may not know is hereditary. I am certain that my mother had it and, once I told the family about my diagnosis, my younger brother decided to get checked out too. Bad driving (by which I mean, reckless driving) runs in the family. On one occasion, after a Christmas Day lunch at relatives, we had a family race home down the motorway (my mum, dad and youngest brother in one car, me in another, my brother and sister in their own cars) which resulted in my mum crashing her car on the slip-road off the motorway. I’ve had many accidents over the years, the most recent of which was a 12 car pile-up in which I was the last car in the chain. We flew back to the UK to visit family about five years ago and got leant a Porsche Cayenne Turbo for the duration of our stay. Within a couple of hours of getting that car I was racing a Mercedes with diplomatic plates down the M4 near Heathrow at about 30mph over the limit.

That said I am genuinely not as bad as I used to be. When I think back on the way I drove during my teens and twenties I am honestly amazed that I am still here and that I wasn’t responsible for harm to others. Dumb luck meant I didn’t kill myself or other people, but I have no doubt that there are people with ADHD in prison right now who weren’t so lucky.

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