A recent study conducted by researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health has found that older adult drivers with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have a significantly higher risk of being involved in crashes compared to their counterparts without ADHD. The study, which focused on the prevalence of ADHD among older adults and its association with crash risk, is one of the first to examine this issue in this age group.
The study analyzed data from the Longitudinal Research on Aging Drivers (LongROAD) project, which included active drivers aged 65 to 79 years. Participants were followed for up to 44 months through in-vehicle data recording devices and annual assessments. Of the 2,832 drivers studied, 75 (2.6%) had ADHD. The prevalence of ADHD was higher among older adults with anxiety or depression.
After adjusting for demographic characteristics and comorbidities, the researchers found that 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.
ADHD is a chronic neurodevelopmental condition that is often associated with symptoms such as inattentiveness, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. While it is commonly thought of as a childhood disorder, it can persist into adulthood and affect the daily lives of older adults.
The researchers behind the study believe that their findings make two important contributions to research on healthy and safe aging. First, they fill a gap in epidemiological data on ADHD among older adults. Second, they provide compelling evidence that older adult drivers with ADHD are at a much higher risk of crashes than those without ADHD.
The LongROAD project, launched in 2014, aims to better understand and meet the safe mobility needs of older adult drivers. Previous studies conducted as part of the project have demonstrated the importance of driving for the health and well-being of older adults. In addition, the researchers have shown that driving data captured by in-vehicle recording devices can be used as reliable markers for predicting mild cognitive impairment and dementia.
With a growing aging population in the United States, the number of older adult drivers is expected to increase significantly in the coming years. The LongROAD project, with its comprehensive data on medical, behavioral, environmental, and technological factors, will play a crucial role in examining the driving safety of older adults during the aging process.
The findings from this study on ADHD and crash risk among older adult drivers emphasize the need for targeted interventions to ensure safe mobility and healthy aging for this population. The researchers highlight the importance of improving the diagnosis and clinical management of ADHD in older adults to promote safe driving and overall well-being.