ADHD Increases Driver’s Risk for Accidents

adhd-driving-dangersDrivers with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are nearly 50 percent more likely to be in a serious car crash, new Swedish research findings suggest.

Henrik Larsson and his colleagues at the Karolinska Institute examined records for more than 17,000 people in Sweden with ADHD to determine if they had been in a car accident between 2006 and 2009 and if they had a prescription for ADHD medication at the time, HealthDay News reports. The people studied were between the ages of 18 and 46. Over all, the researchers say, having ADHD increased a man’s risk of a traffic crash by 47 percent and a woman’s risk by 45 percent, but men with ADHD dramatically decrease their risk of traffic accidents if they take medication for the condition. The study was published online January 29 in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

According to Ruth Hughes, who is CEO of the patient advocacy group Children and Adults With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, people with ADHD have problems with sustained attention and impulsivity, both of which can have an “adverse effect” on driving. Drivers with ADHD, Hughes says, need to “responsibly manage their treatment to reduce driving risks,” according to HealthDay News.

The researchers checked records to learn whether people involved in crashes had filled a prescription for ADHD medicine in the previous six months. Men who took ADHD medication reduced their risk of a car accident by 58 percent as compared to men not taking medication, the study results show, though medication did not seem to provide significant benefits to women in terms of crash risk, HealthDay News reports. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America estimates that about 8 million adults live with ADHD.

Earlier research, involving virtual-reality driving simulators, showed that drivers with ADHD are more likely to speed, tap the brakes, drive erratically, and accelerate into potential accidents, according to Dr. Lenard Adler, professor of psychiatry at New York University’s Langone Medical Center. “These sorts of things are more likely in individuals with ADHD than in people without ADHD,” Adler said, according to HealthDay News.


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