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Although it is well established in the United States that older adult drivers have substantially higher fatal crash rates per mile driven than drivers aged 30 to 59 years, a recent US based multi-city study has provided more insight into the impact of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) on the driving behaviour of elderly Americans (a.k.a., Seniors).
The study, which was designed to answer the question whether car crashes are associated with ADHD in American seniors, concludes that elderly American drivers (seniors) with ADHD have a significantly higher risk of car crashes. They are also more likely to slam on the brakes and get traffic tickets.
For background, the United States is on record to have about 48 million older drivers, a number that could reach 63 million within seven years.
The study population include more than 2,800 drivers between 65 and 79 years of age and about 2.6% had ADHD.
Furthermore, according to the study findings, “having ADHD was associated with a 7% increased risk of hard-braking events, a 102% increased risk of self-reported traffic ticket events, and a 74% increased risk of self-reported vehicular crashes.
According to the gold standard database of behaviour disorders in the United States, i.e., The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth edition (DSM-5), ADHD is a neurodevelopmental condition that is often diagnosed during childhood and can persist throughout life.
ADHD symptoms include a range of behavioural issues associated with inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity that are not due to any known mental health disorder, although co-existing disorders like anxiety and depression may heighten ADHD symptoms.
The study authors report that ADHD-related issues that might contribute to driving challenges include difficulty with concentration, focus and attention; hyperactivity, which may increase distraction and decrease vigilance and impulsivity, which may lead to behaviors like speeding and running red lights.
The study authors also propose that enhanced screening, advanced in-vehicle technologies, diagnosis and clinical care of ADHD in older adults might help counter the driving issues.
Limitations of the study findings for wider application to other societies and ethnic/racial groups such as Africans include the facts that the study population was small and essentially made up of non-Hispanic white Americans, and the identification of ADHD status was based on self-reporting rather than confirmed from medical records.
Specific locally based research is called for in African countries in order to establish if any association exist between ADHD and the rate of motor vehicular crashes in elderly Africans.
Pending such studies, the study findings is still worthy of attention by every public health policy maker and road safety management organizations world-wide.
Learn more from the original study source.
Published: October 5, 2023
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