Approximately 34,000 car accidents occur in the U.S. per year, resulting in nearly 37,000 deaths, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). While there are numerous factors that can help lower your risk of a crash—driving sober and not texting behind the wheel, to name a few—there’s one common condition that can cause your risk of a car accident to skyrocket: ADHD. According to a study published in the August 2020 Journal of the American Academy of Child&Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP), individuals with ADHD symptoms that persisted into adulthood were 1.81 times more likely to be involved in a car accident than those without ADHD.
The study’s findings were based on the Multimodal Treatment Study of ADHD, which followed 441 children with ADHD and 231 children without ADHD between ages 7 and 25. Among adults who had been diagnosed with ADHD as children, the rate of car crashes was 1.45 times higher by adulthood than among those with no ADHD diagnosis. However, getting into accidents isn’t the only way in which ADHD can affect behind-the-wheel behavior in adulthood. In a statement, the study’s lead author, Arunima Roy, MBBS, PhD, explained that ADHD is associated with “more traffic violations, speeding violations, license suspensions, and risky driving behaviors.”
Similarly, a study published in the June 2019 issue of Pediatrics found that, among a group of over 14,000 drivers in New Jersey, those with ADHD were more than twice as likely to be in an alcohol-related accident than those without the condition.
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However, there is some hope for individuals whose symptoms of childhood ADHD have subsided by adulthood. The JAACAP study found that adults who had been previously diagnosed with ADHD but whose symptoms had diminished significantly were no more likely to get into a car accident than those without ADHD. Even among those with persistent ADHD symptoms, research suggests that continuing a medication regimen could reduce their risk of a crash. In a study of 2.3 million adults with ADHD published in JAMA Psychiatry, men with ADHD were 38 percent less likely to be in an accident when they were on medication, while medication reduced the risk of a crash among women with ADHD by 42 percent. And for more expert tips on road safety, Dr. Fauci Says He Does This Every Time He Rides in a Car Amid COVID.
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