According to a study by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), teens diagnosed with attention-deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), are more likely to be involved in dangerous driving behaviors, receive traffic and moving violations, and crash than peers without ADHD. Pediatrics.
A multidisciplinary team of researchers at CHOP’s Center for Injury Research and Prevention and Center for Management of ADHD examined detailed crash and traffic violation records for newly licensed drivers in order conduct the first large-scale longitudinal research on this topic.
This study identifies dangerous driving behaviors that ADHD sufferers may be more inclined to engage in. These include speeding, driving while impaired, and not wearing a belt. These behaviors can be changed. This study suggests that families and clinicians can work together with these teens to improve safe driving habits and reduce crash risk.
“What this study shows is that we need to go beyond current recommendations of medication and delaying getting licensed to reduce crash risk for teens who have ADHD,” said Allison E. Curry PhD, MPH, the lead author of the study and a senior scientist and director of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Center for Injury Research and Prevention at CHOP and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at University of Pennsylvania Perelman Medical School. Their higher rates of citations may be due to their risky driving habits. It is necessary to conduct more research to determine objectively if these behaviors are contributing to crash risk.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ADHD has been identified in an estimated 6.1 Million children aged 2-17 years. Safe transportation is a growing concern for many of these ADHD youth. For these drivers and all others on the road, it is urgent that clinicians and their families provide evidence-based guidance.
Researchers reviewed the records from 14,936 adolescents who were treated at six CHOP primary care offices in New Jersey. They had received an intermediate driver’s licence between January 2004 and December 2014. The study team compared the adolescents’ electronic health records with New Jersey driver licensing records and traffic violations. Police-reported crash data was also analyzed. The researchers identified 1,769 children with ADHD diagnosed in childhood and who were granted an intermediate driver’s licence during the study period. They then compared their crash outcomes to those of drivers without ADHD.
Although crash risk is higher for all newly licensed drivers but not for those with ADHD, the study team found that it was 62 percent higher in the first month of licensure and 37 percent during the first four year after licensure. Drivers with ADHD had higher rates of certain types of crashes, such as driving with passengers, at fault-, single-vehicle-, injury-, and alcohol-related accidents. The last risk was 109 percent higher than for those without ADHD.
Young drivers with ADHD were more likely to be charged with moving violations and traffic violations than their peers without ADHD. These drivers received nearly 37 percent a traffic violation and nearly 27 per cent a moving violation within their first years of driving. This is in contrast to the 25 percent, 18 percent, and 18 percent respectively of their peers with ADHD. ADHD drivers had higher rates of alcohol and drug violations and moving violations (including speeding or non-use seat belts and electronic equipment use), than those without ADHD. Their rate was 1.5x higher than the rate of young drivers who had ADHD within the first year of driving, and 3.5x that of those with ADHD after the first year.
Thomas J. stated that “we need to do more research to understand how ADHD symptoms impact crash risk so we can develop skills training to reduce the risk for newly licensed drivers with ADHD.” Power, PhD., ABPP, is a study coauthor and director of the Center for Management of ADHD (CHOP). “There isn’t enough research currently being done on older adolescents or young adults with ADHD. Especially studies that focus on safe driving behavior.
This work was made possible by grants R01HD079398 and (R21HD092850) from the National Institutes of Health.
Materials provided by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Note: Content may be edited to improve style and length.