Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, commonly referred to as ADHD, is a neurological disorder characterized by hyperactivity, impulsiveness and inattentiveness. It is typically associated with children, but teens and adults also suffer from its effects. Children with ADHD typically have behavior problems in school, such as impulsiveness and inattentiveness. Some kids with ADHD may have a difficult time sitting still while others may lack focus, have problems with paying attention to the teacher, or comprehending lessons.
In older children and adults, the effects of ADHD impact every aspect of their lives including interactions with family and friends, school, and work. Undoubtedly, everyday activities, such as driving a car, can be a challenge.
In teens and adults, ADHD symptoms may include constant fidgeting such as swinging legs or tapping fingers. Adults with ADHD can feel “revved up”, have a difficult time relaxing and they are easily distracted or impulsive. Teens and adults, with ADHD often, are impatient and fail to foresee the consequences of their actions. As a result, they engage in risky behavior such as reckless driving. In fact, teens with ADHD have four times as many car accidents as teens who do not have ADHD.
While there is no known cure for ADHD, dietary changes, counseling, and medication can help control the symptoms. Common ADHD medications include stimulants such as Ritalin, Vyvanse, Focalin, and Adderall. These medications help those with ADHD to stay focused and ignore distractions. Studies have shown that stimulant medications are effective in 70% to 80% of patients. Thus, taking medication as prescribed by a physician can help ensure that drivers with ADHD are better able to focus on the road. Medication keeps drivers more patient and less impulsive,making it less likely that they will engage in risky driving behavior.
Despite the success rates in treatment, there are people with ADHD who refuse to take medication. One reason is that the medication causes side effects in some individuals, including decreased appetite, weight loss, difficulty in sleeping, and jitteriness. Often, these common side effects disappear or become less severe over time. There are, however, more severe side effects such as an increased risk for cardiovascular disease, worsening of existing depression, anxiety, or even psychosis.
The ADHD Driver and Car Accident Liability
What if someone with ADHD declines to take prescribed medication, gets behind the wheel, and causes an accident in which property is damaged and/or people are injured? As a defense, the driver with ADHD argues that he or she drove recklessly because of ADHD and therefore should not be held responsible for the accident.
There are millions of people who suffer from ADHD and other disorders or injuries that can make driving a challenge. Regardless, this does not excuse poor driving. Drivers in virtually every jurisdiction are required to follow the “Rules of the Road” and to drive in a responsible manner. It is not a valid excuse if the driver claims he was impaired by the effects of ADHD, particularly if the driver has been diagnosed with the condition and is aware of its effects. If a driver with ADHD causes an accident, he or she will be liable just like any other driver who causes a car accident. Do you think that people who suffer from certain disorders that negatively impact driving skills should not be allowed to get driver’s licenses?
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