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ADHD medication could help lower U.S. car crash rates

Thousands of Americans die every year in car crashes, and many of them caused by distracted driving. One small but critical factor in distracted driving is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Minnesota motorists should know about a study published by JAMA Psychiatry that shows the relationship between ADHD-related crashes and medication.

Researchers looked into the health insurance claims filed between 2005 and 2014, identifying over 2.3 million Americans older than 18 with ADHD. The average age of the drivers was 32. Records showed that more than 1.9 million had a prescription filled for ADHD medication, though there was naturally no way of proving that drivers actually took the medication.

The authors of the study then counted how many times ADHD patients went to an emergency room because of a car accident. They concluded that there was a lower risk for crashes on those months when prescriptions were filled than on those months when they were not. Men in particular were 38 percent less likely to be in crashes when medicated, and for women that number was 42 percent. Experts warn, however, that medication should not be considered a cure-all. Accidents could be prevented by addressing ADHD symptoms with behavioral therapy, and such symptoms may even naturally recede as young people with ADHD become accustomed to driving.

Drivers with ADHD might be more prone to text or talk on the phone while driving, but even when they don't, they may become distracted by other stimuli. These all increase the potential for a car accident. An occupant of another vehicle who is injured in such an accident might want to meet with an attorney to see what options are available for seeking appropriate compensation.

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