ADHD Increases Risk for Car Crashes in Older Adults

ADHD Increases Risk for Car Crashes in Older Adults
Picture of Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Joshua Yager M.D.

Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Joshua Yager M.D.

Dr. Joshua Yager is an Atlanta native, board-certified family practice physician who is dedicated to the health and wellbeing of his community.

Table of Contents

In a recent study looking into attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in older adults, researchers discovered something concerning. They found that older drivers with ADHD are more likely to have accidents than those without the condition. This study not only looked at actual crashes but also at incidents of hard braking and self-reported traffic tickets. Up until this point, most research on ADHD and driving primarily focused on kids and young adults. There was little known about how ADHD impacts older drivers.

Senior drivers with ADHD had over double the reported incidents of receiving traffic tickets (22 compared to 10 for every million miles driven) and being in car accidents (27 versus 13.5 for every million miles driven) compared to those without ADHD.

Have you ever felt constantly distracted or overly impulsive? These might be signs of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). It’s a condition where people find it hard to focus, act on impulse, and might seem overly energetic. These challenges can pop up at school, work, or even in everyday social situations.

ADHD, characterized by symptoms like lack of focus, impulsiveness, and overactivity, is commonly considered a childhood disorder, but it can persist into adulthood and affect daily life performances of older adults, researchers noted. While we often associate it with younger individuals, it can continue into one’s adult years, impacting the daily tasks of many older adults. In the U.S., ADHD is found in about 9% to 13% of kids under 17 and 8% of adults aged 18 to 44. Over time, we’ve seen a rise in ADHD’s reported prevalence in adults, largely thanks to better diagnostic methods. However, as people age, the rate of ADHD generally decreases.

Yuxin Liu, an M.P.H. researcher from Columbia University in New York, along with her team, delved into understanding ADHD’s prevalence and its link to crash risks in elderly drivers. Their study encompassed 2,832 senior drivers aged 65 to 79 from the Longitudinal Research on Aging Drivers project. These participants were monitored for nearly 44 months using in-car devices and yearly check-ins.

The team’s findings revealed that 2.6% of the participants had experienced ADHD in their lifetime. Surprisingly, elderly drivers with ADHD showed a noticeably higher frequency of sudden braking, clocking in at 1.35 events per 1,000 miles, compared to 1.15 for those without ADHD. Furthermore, they reported more traffic tickets at a rate of 22.47 per million miles and higher vehicle accidents at 27.10 per million miles, compared to 9.74 and 13.50, respectively, for non-ADHD participants. Once factors like driving habits and health were considered, having ADHD significantly raised the risks related to braking, traffic tickets, and accidents.

Dr. Li and his team previously found that the health of older adults can decline when they stop driving. Moreover, earlier this year, they showed that driving data, gathered from in-car recording devices, can reliably predict early signs of cognitive issues and dementia.

Dr. Li pointed out, “Currently, the U.S. has 48 million senior drivers. With our aging population, this figure is projected to grow to 63 million by 2030. Insights from the pivotal LongROAD project will help us understand how health, behavior, environment, and technology intersect to influence driving safety as people age.”

ADHD Treatment in Atlanta

At West Georgia Wellness Center, we truly understand the complexities of ADHD and the challenges it brings to everyday life. Our dedicated team is here to support those navigating this journey. We don’t just offer generic solutions; instead, we provide personalized care, rooted in evidence-based therapies. Every individual is unique, and our treatments reflect that, tailored to meet each person’s specific needs. Our goal? To help those with ADHD not just manage, but thrive. In our welcoming environment, you’re not just a patient – you’re family, and together, we’ll find the best path forward for you. Call us today to being your ADHD Treatment in Atlanta, GA.

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