About eight million American adults live with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Adults with ADHD have trouble concentrating, staying organized, remembering information, and following directions. Those with ADHD often engage in impulsive behavior.
Since driving requires concentration and focus, ADHD can also affect a person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle. Previous research has found that drivers with ADHD are more likely to engage in reckless behavior such as tapping the breaks, speeding, driving erratically, and accelerating for no reason. A recent study has found that drivers with ADHD are nearly 50 percent more likely to be in a serious car accident than a driver without the disorder.
Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden tracked the driving records more than 17,000 people with ADHD, aged 18 to 46. The study used databases to determine whether the participant had been in a car accident between 2006 and 2009.
The study found that having ADHD increases a man’s risk of being in an accident by 47 percent and increases woman’s crash risk by 45 percent. The researchers’ conclusion: having ADHD does mean that you have to live with increased accident risk.
The researchers also looked whether the participants who were involved in an accident had filled a prescription for ADHD medicine within the six months prior to the crash. They found that ADHD medications could significantly reduce car crash risk in men with the condition. While medication reduced male accident risk by 58 percent, it had little effect on women’s car crash risk.
The researchers estimated that between 41 percent and 49 percent of car accidents involving men with ADHD might not have occurred if the driver had been taking his medication as prescribed.
The study was published online on January 29 by the journal JAMA Psychiatry.
The authors also emphasized that not all drivers with ADHD are more likely to crash. Although some drivers with ADHD tend to be more reckless, many are perfectly safe drivers. If you have ADHD, you should know how your condition affects your driving. Take your medication as directed and mention any side effects to your doctor.
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