Ask Dr. Swanson: ADHD and driving

Distracted driving has become a big problem for teen drivers, but those with ADHD are at an even higher risk for car crashes. Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson joins KING 5 to discuss the risk and why medication can be a game-changer.

Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson of Seattle Children's hospital shares recent finding about how ADHD can affect teens while driving.

Distracted driving and teens
- 15- to 20-year-old drivers constitute 6.4 percent of all drivers, 10 percent of all motor vehicle traffic deaths, and 14 percent of all police-reported crashes resulting in injuries
- Driving is most dangerous during the first six months that a driver is behind the wheel
- A well-known distraction is texting and driving, which involves three distractions: Visual (eyes averted), manual (hands preoccupied), and cognitive (thoughts elsewhere)

ADHD
- Affects 5 percent to 7 percent of children and adolescents
- One of the most common mental health problems in adults
- ADHD can be a cognitive distraction, but can also lead to visual distractions and manual distractions

Recent study findings
- Study included more than 2.3 million U.S. patients with ADHD
- Untreated ADHD patients had the highest risk of a car crash
- Men with ADHD were 38 percent less likely to have a car crash event when taking medication
- Women with ADHD were 42 percent less likely to have a car crash even when taking medication

Know the risks
- Car crashes result in approximately 33,000 deaths and 2.8 million injuries per year
- Adolescents are 4 times more likely to be involved in a car crash than drivers older than 20 years of age
- Performance of a secondary task can increase the risk of a crash, because it is cognitively demanding

Resources
- JAMA Study 2017: Association between medication use for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and risk of motor vehicle crashes
- JAMA Study 2013: Impact of distraction on the driving performance of adolescents with and without attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
- New England Journal of Medicine: Distracted driving and risk of road crashes among novice and experienced drivers
- Seattle Mama Doc blog: Texting and driving again

© 2017 KING-TV


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