Auto Accident Risk Higher Among Drivers With ADHD: Study

New research indicates that individuals with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) may be more likely to be involved in a serious auto accident, but use of ADHD medications appears to help reduce this risk.

In a study published by the medical journal JAMA Psychiatry on January 29, researchers found that adults with ADHD were involved in almost three times as many serious automobile accidents than individuals without the condition.

ADHD is a condition that disrupts the focus of an individual, or causes them to be overactive and not be able to control their behavior. The condition is brought on by a combination of genes and environmental factors and is most prevalent among male children.

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Typically the condition sets in at a young age, but can last into adulthood. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 11% of children between the ages of four and seventeen years old were diagnosed with ADHD in 2011.

Researchers analyzed 17,408 Swedish adults with ADHD from 2006 through 2009, finding that there were 214 serious accidents among every 10,000 men with ADHD each year, compared to 77 serious automobile accidents for every 10,000 without ADHD.

After comparing the driving data of men using an ADHD medication against those who did not have a prescription, researchers were able to conclude that individuals medicated for ADHD were 58% less likely to be involved in accidents.

Past research on side effects of ADHD have shown that individuals not medicated may be subject to inattentiveness and impulsivity, which increases the risk of accidents. However, ADHD medication is not always the recommended first step for treatment, as the drugs may cause side effects such as loss of appetite, sleep problems, and mood swings.

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