ADHD may help predict adults' car crash risk

  • ADHD is associated with riskier behaviour on the road
  • Young adults with continuing ADHD since childhood are more likely to be involved in road accidents
  • However, in those whose ADHD symptoms are under control, there is no higher risk of road crashes 

Young adults who've had attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) since childhood are at increased risk for road crashes, researchers say.

But there is no increased risk for those whose ADHD symptoms have decreased, according to the study published online recently in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Other health conditions

For the study, the researchers analysed data from 441 children with ADHD and 231 children without ADHD. They were followed from age seven to 25 as part of a study that involved six centres in the United States and one in Canada.

The investigators looked at participants' ADHD symptoms and driving records, as well as other health conditions. The other conditions included oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, antisocial personality disorder, and substance use during childhood and into adulthood.

Young adults with and without a history of ADHD got driving licenses at similar ages and at similar rates, the findings showed.

Compared with people with no history of ADHD, the rate of car crashes was 1.45 times higher for adults who had a history of childhood ADHD, and 1.81 times higher for those with continuing symptoms.

Functioning in other domains

However, crash rates were the same among adults who never had ADHD and those whose ADHD symptoms remitted.

"Extant research shows that ADHD is associated with more traffic violations, speeding violations, licence suspensions and risky driving behaviours," said study lead author Arunima Roy, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Ottawa in Ontario, Canada.

Roy noted in a journal news release that the likelihood of risky driving increases when childhood ADHD persists into adulthood.

"Prior research from our group as well as by others also shows that, aside from driving behaviours, a persistence of ADHD into adulthood can impair functioning in other domains," Roy said. "These domains can include occupational performance, educational attainment, emotional functioning, substance use and justice involvement."

Image credit: iStock 

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