Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, commonly known as ADHD, is a condition that affects millions of children and adults in the United States including many drivers on the road. A large national study by George Washington University School of Health published in 2015 found that 12 percent of children and teens had a diagnosis of ADHD in 2011, a jump of 43 percent since 2003. Usually, symptoms appear in childhood, and carry into adulthood. An analysis of Express Scripts pharmacy data, the nation’s largest pharmacy benefit management organization, found a growing percentage of adults in the U.S. are taking medications for ADHD.
In adults, ADHD appears as impulsive behavior, difficulty paying attention and hyperactivity, according to the Mayo Clinic. While some adults can manage with or without medication, many adults with ADHD have major problems functioning. Mood swings, temper problems, and problems with concentration are all common symptoms of adult ADHD.
In addition to the difficulties associated with day-to-day functioning, ADHD may pose a traffic safety hazard. The Karolinska Institute in Sweden published results to a study concluding that drivers with ADHD are nearly 50 percent more likely to be involved in a crash as compared to drivers who do not have the condition.
The Study: Risk of Car Accident Increased for People with ADHD
According to an article in Auto Blog, the researchers found that adults with ADHD are at a significantly greater risk of being involved in a serious car accident. The Swedish researchers found that a male’s risk of being involved in a crash, if the male suffers from ADHD, increased by 47 percent, and an ADHD-diagnosed woman’s risk of a car crash increased by 45 percent.
The reason that drivers with ADHD are at an increased risk of a car accident is likely due to the fact that people with ADHD have difficulty staying focused and are easily distracted. Another factor may be that many adults with ADHD struggle with anger and managing their emotions, putting them at risk of road rage. Road rage can be extremely dangerous, and is often a precursor to aggressive driving.
Some drivers may suffer from a condition termed ADHD hyperfocus. Some individuals with ADHD focus on subjects of interest to them so intently that they lose awareness of what is happening around them. This can be very dangerous when behind the wheel of a moving automobile. A hyperfocused driver is more likely to have a distracted driving accident.
If you or a loved one has ADHD, it is important to be aware of the driving safety risks and take steps to reduce the chances of being involved in a car accident. The following are safety tips for an ADHD driver:
- Talk to your doctor about medication. Medication is one of the easiest and most effective ways to manage the symptoms of ADHD, such as lack of focus and distraction. Because medications to treat ADHD are available by prescription only, and can have myriad - and sometimes negative - side effects, it is important to be honest with your doctor about your health history and what you are experiencing. Your doctor may decide that you are a good candidate for ADHD medication. Be sure that you try the medication for a couple of weeks prior to operating a motor vehicle so that you know how the medication affects you.
- Limit distractions. One of the primary symptoms is the inability to remain focused on a task – such as driving. Driving demands concentration. It is best to limit exposure to as many distractions in the vehicle as possible, such as cell phones and other electronics, before turning on the ignition. For example, put a cellphone out of reach and turn it off, limit any food and drink within the vehicle, and make sure pets and children are properly secured.
- Find ways to get control and improve focus. There are a number of adults can manage their ADHD without medication. Some of these include maintaining a healthy diet, exercising on a regular basis, managing stress, and getting restful sleep. In the car, focusing on breathing exercises or listening to music may help to improve focus and help someone with ADHD combat common symptoms. You should talk to your doctor about other methods to improve ADHD symptoms.
- Consider other methods of transportation. If your ADHD symptoms are especially severe, or if you are having difficulty managing your ADHD symptoms on your own, you might want to start thinking seriously about other means of transportation such as taking the T. Luckily, Boston has plenty of public transportation options. You can walk, bike, take a bus, carpool, use the commuter rail, or take the T, depending on where you are going. If you are the parent of a teen with ADHD, you should consider these options. Inexperience combined with ADHD symptoms can be especially risky.
Get Help Managing ADHD - It Could Save Your Life
ADHD is a serious condition. When it comes to driving - and potentially other activities - it could be very dangerous. Because of the huge increased risk of car accident that those with ADHD face when operating a motor vehicle, our team at Kelly & Soto Law encourages you to get help managing your ADHD and to consider options other than driving in instances of severe ADHD.
If you are involved in a car accident, our experienced Boston car accident lawyers are here to help you file a claim and get back on your feet again. If you need legal assistance, please do not hesitate to contact Kelly & Soto Law for a free case consultation. We will advocate for you every step of the way.