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How to reduce crash risk for ADHD patients

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An earlier article on this blog addressed the growing concern that Attention-Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder may increase the chances of a car crash in Virginia and other states. It pointed out that young drivers with ADHD may be particularly susceptible to distractions on the road, as well as impairment caused by drugs and alcohol.

CNN confirmed this in a report stating that young drivers with ADHD have a 36 percent higher likelihood of having a motor vehicle accident. In fact, the correlation between ADHD and the risk of car crashes is not a new topic. Back in 1993, one study claimed adolescent drivers with ADHD were four times more likely to have an accident than other drivers.

Medication helps

This problem is further compounded by findings that only a small percentage of teens with ADHD are prescribed medication. One study found that in the 30 days before getting their first drivers license only 12 percent of adolescents had been medicated.

Why is this a problem? Medicated drivers with ADHD have a drastically lower chance of getting into an accident. In fact, untreated ADHD may lead to symptoms while driving that are not unlike intoxicated driving, including impulsive behavior.

All ages are affected

It is important to remember that while the focus has been on teens, ADHD affects adults as well. When adding adults to the research pool, CNN estimates that providing medication for ADHD patients would eliminate 22.1 percent of car crashes. Other strategies taken by proactive ADHD patients include the following:

  •          Turning the radio off
  •          Avoiding stimulants, such as alcohol
  •          Restricting conversation while driving

Gender plays a role

One interesting finding is that males with ADHD are more likely to drive unsafely than women even when on medication. Medication lowered the risk of a car crash by 38 percent for males, but 42 percent for women. In fact, young women with ADHD are no more likely to have accidents than women of the same age who do not have ADHD.

Why is this? Experts say girls tend to internalize behavioral problems, resulting in self-harm risks. Meanwhile, boys trend toward externalizing, leading to antisocial and delinquent behaviors that may make them a higher driving risk. Thankfully, experts say medication helps to reduce this type of behavior in boys and men. The trick is convincing them to take it.

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