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Medication for drivers with ADHD may lower crash risk

Many Missouri motorists may have, or be familiar with, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. This neurodevelopmental disorder is characterized by short attention spans, impulsiveness, and other signs of hyperactivity like excessive talking, tapping, and fidgeting. With age, the hyperactivity may recede, but this still leaves drivers with difficulty resisting impulsive actions like texting, talking on the phone, and playing with the radio.

Researchers published a study in JAMA Psychiatry that compared the crash risk of drivers with ADHD to those without the condition. They reviewed the health insurance claims filed between 2005 and 2014, identifying over 2.3 million Americans over 18 with ADHD, and compared their crash risk to that of an age-matched and sex-matched control group without ADHD. As might be expected, those with ADHD were at a higher risk for car crashes.

Nearly 84 percent of those drivers with ADHD received medication at some point, though whether they actually took it could not be determined. However, researchers found that those months where prescriptions were filled were marked by less visits to the emergency room due to crashes.

While the study concludes that up to 22.1 percent of accidents could have been avoided with medication, some experts believe medication is unnecessary beyond childhood. Behavioral therapy could help drivers gain competence, and ADHD symptoms may become less intrusive as driving becomes routine.

Another fact is that some drivers refuse to take medication. When distracted driving leads to a car collision, injured victims might need extensive and costly medical care and treatment. They might find it advisable to have legal assistance when seeking compensation from the at-fault driver for these and other losses.

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