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ADHD Increases Risk of Car Accidents

Update Date: Aug 12, 2013 04:03 PM EDT

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopment disorder that leads to inappropriate behaviors relative to age. People with ADHD are generally more hyper and have a shorter attention span. Due to the fact that ADHD deals with attention specifically, driving could be a potentially dangerous task. However, with medications, ADHD can be monitored but only to a certain extent. In a new study, researchers decided to look into the effects of distractions on drivers with ADHD. They found that when distractions were present, ADHD drivers exhibited higher variability in speed and more lane positions when compared to drivers without the condition.

For this study, the researchers headed by Megan Narad, M.A., from the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center evaluated 61 adolescents between the ages of 16 and 17. 28 of the participants in this group were diagnosed with ADHD while the remaining 33 did not have the disorder. All of the participants took part in a driving stimulation test that had three conditions. The first involved no distractions, the second added cell phone conversation and the last incorporated texting.

"Driving deficits related to ADHD appear to impact specific driving behaviors, namely, variability in speed and lane position. Because both maintaining a consistent speed and central, consistent lane position require constant attention to the road and one's surroundings, the pattern of our findings are not surprising," the authors commented.

"In conclusion, this study clearly demonstrates that both an ADHD diagnosis and texting while driving present serious risks to the driving performance of adolescents. There is a clear need for policy and/or intervention efforts to address these risks.

This study's findings are alarming and suggest that something more needs to be done to ensure that young drivers with ADHD are safe to drive. Motor vehicle crashes, or MVCs are generally already higher in adolescents. When the variable of ADHD is added, the young group is at an even higher risk of MVCs. However, the authors remind people that texting while driving for anyone at all ages is very dangerous.

The study was published in JAMA Pediatrics. The press release can be found here.

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