• Teens with ADHD at Increased Risk of a Wreck
  • July 14, 2017
  • Recently, researchers from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) published a study that examined the connection between teens who suffer from Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and their risk of motor vehicle accidents. They discovered that adolescents with ADHD have a 36 percent higher rate of car accidents compared to all other newly licensed teens.

    The study, which was published in the JAMA Pediatrics journal, is the first large-scale study to examine the effect that ADHD can have on young drivers’ ability to safely operate a vehicle. CHOP researchers linked over 18,500 electronic health records (EHRs) of individuals born between 1987 and 1997 with accident and licensing data from New Jersey. They analyzed the connection between the presence of ADHD, their licensure, and involvement in the wreck. They also considered other factors, including gender and the person’s age when they received their license. Researchers found that of the 18,500 records, approximately 2,500 patients were diagnosed with ADHD.

    Allison E. Curry, PhD and MPH, is a senior scientist at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP) at CHOP and a lead researcher of the study. She believes that, while the risk of car accidents is greater in teens with ADHD, it is a risk that can be managed with structured, evidence-based training and education. However, others feel that any increase in the risk of a car accident is unacceptable.

    Additional Research Needed to Understand Impact of ADHD
    Teenagers are already known for being easily distracted, impulsive, and emotional. Teens with ADHD can also struggle with other issues including difficulty concentrating, sleep disturbances, immature communication skills, and learning problems. With more research targeted at the effects of ADHD on teen behavior and how it impacts a young person’s ability to drive, health and safety officials can develop programs that are tailored to the issues that teens with ADHD often face. In the meantime, parents and caregivers are urged to help their teens with ways to manage impulse control, increase attention, and improve communication skills.

    ADHD is usually diagnosed in children between the ages of three and seven and common symptoms include lack of attention, hyperactivity, and impulsive behavior. There are three types of ADHD: predominantly inattentive, predominantly hyperactive, and the combination of the two. Approximately three to seven percent of school age children in the United States suffer from ADHD. There is no cure for ADHD, but it can be managed with medication, as well as behavioral, psychological, and social therapy.

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