Study Shows That Untreated ADHD Can Lead to Car Accidents
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has become a topic of great debate in recent years. Some people feel that too many children are being diagnosed with the disorder. ADHD is characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness—traits that some people feel are just part of being a child. However, ADHD is very real, and can affect the control and attention spans of those inflicted well into adulthood.
Children with ADHD can receive special attention in school and at home to help curb symptoms and allow them to live their lives in relative safety. However, as these children grow up, uncontrollable hyperactivity and inattention can place them at extreme risk for injuries, especially if an episode hits while they’re behind the wheel of a car.
Driving Risks for People with ADHD
Any medical condition could potentially affect a person’s ability to drive. If the condition causes bouts of pain and discomfort or directly affects the driver’s focus, the driver potentially might lose control of the vehicle. Adults with ADHD find that their condition affects both mind and body, resulting in disastrous driving distractions, including:
- Decreased cognitive function. Inattention can lead to distraction and decreased reaction time. As a result, an emergency situation that could have been avoided can be disastrous for an unfocused ADHD driver.
- Increased poor judgment. According to CHADD, the National Resource Center on ADHD, adults with ADHD tend to overestimate their driving abilities even though they may have poorer driving experiences than their peers. Consequently, ADHD drivers will often take more chances and seek out dangerous situations, believing that their skills will triumph over the risks.
- Increased driver fatigue. People with ADHD require constant stimulation to hold their focus. Unfortunately, staring at the same road for long periods of time can become incredibly boring for any driver, let alone one who requires visual motivation. As a result, ADHD drivers can become bored and lose interest in driving rather quickly, which places them at risk for distractions, fatigue, and a disregard for safety.
Driving and Medication Safety
A recent Swedish study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry discovered that up to half of transportation-related accidents involving men with ADHD could have been avoided if the men had taken medication for their disorder. The researchers looked at 17,000 individuals with ADHD over a period of four years. These results were then analyzed to show the risk of motor vehicle accidents between people diagnosed with ADHD who took medication and those who didn’t medicate, as well as how medication influenced driving risks.
The men were compared to themselves during periods in which they were and were not taking ADHD medication. The researchers determined that with pharmaceutical intervention, the risk of a motor vehicle accident was 58 percent lower. Without ADHD medication, individuals with ADHD had a 45 percent increased risk of being involved in a serious car wreck as compared to people without ADHD.
In a nutshell, this study shows that medication can ease the symptoms of ADHD and allow sufferers to better control their bodies and attention spans. However, does this mean that they should trust that their medication to guarantee the focus and control required for safe driving?
Our position: people with attention problems have a greater obligation than other drivers to make sure their health does not pose a danger to other people using the road. If medical treatment cannot assure their ability to drive safely, then they must not drive. Anyone who drives when he recognizes he is unable to do so safely is acting negligently and can be held responsible for the outcome of any traffic accident he may cause.
Let us know your thoughts in the comment section provided. We’re eager to hear how you interpret the facts. Whether you suffer from ADHD or have suffered as a result of an ADHD-related accident, allow us to read your insights into this delicate matter.