Medication helpful for ADHD drivers

With kids out of school in a few short weeks, many are excitedly planning summer road trip adventures. Better road conditions and holiday time also mean more drivers on the road and more chances for motor vehicle accidents.

I have written before about the increased risk of accidents for drivers with ADHD. Studies have found individuals with this condition receive more tickets than their non-ADHD peers, are in four times as many accidents and are four times as likely to be at fault in those accidents.

Some of the symptoms of ADHD that can be a problem for drivers include inattentiveness, impulsivity, risk-taking tendencies, immature judgment and thrill seeking. These symptoms can increase risk for both teen and adult drivers with ADHD.

Fortunately, a new study out of the US has found individuals managing their ADHD with medication significantly reduce the risk of motor vehicle accidents.

The study, published in JAMA Psychiatry, examined data from more than two million ADHD patients. Subjects were identified from health insurance claims between 2005 and 2014 and followed up for ER visits as a result of motor vehicle incidents. Researchers then compared accident risk during months in which patients received ADHD medication with risk during months they did not receive medication.

Risks were roughly 40 percent reduced during months when individuals received medication for their ADHD. This is not surprising as effective medical management should result in a reduction of most symptoms likely to increase accident risk.

Interestingly, ADHD medication use was also associated with a roughly 30 percent lower risk of accidents two years later.

One author speculated this is the first study to demonstrate a long-term effect and could indicate that sustained medication use may reduce co-existing issues or result in long-term improvements in function. More research is needed to determine if this is indeed the case.

If taking medication, there can be varying effectiveness at different times of the day. Taking medication regularly at the same time each day can help you take note of when your attention is at its peak.

Regardless of medication use, here are a few ways to help improve driving results: keep your cell phone in the trunk to avoid being distracted by it; minimize excessive background noise and music; when possible, avoid driving during rush hour when traffic can be distracting; plan routes in advance and give yourself enough time to avoid getting lost or needing to hurry; limit the number of passengers and choose them carefully; and never drive when tired.

If you are a driver with ADHD, following these simply guidelines and your doctor’s treatment advice should help you to be safe on the roads.


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