Risks of riding with untreated ADHD
The risks of riding with untreated ADHD is as real as an accident waiting to happen. Accumulative studies show a strong causal link between increased motorcycle accidents and untreated Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). According to psychiatrist Dr Rykie Liebenberg, it’s vital for young adults with ADHD to seek proper treatment or they could be at risk on the road.
“The research speaks for itself when it comes to the negatives of riding with untreated ADHD,” says Dr Rykie Liebenberg. “When you combine the symptoms of untreated ADHD with the multitasking required when riding, it can create a dangerous situation for the rider, their passengers – as well as other road users.”
ADHD affects around 4-5% of all adults and generally presents with three core symptoms: inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. This can make individuals with ADHD more prone to distraction, fidgeting, forgetfulness, impatience and emotional outbursts – all of which can have disproportionately negative outcomes when the individual takes to the road.
Based on insights from a UK-based study, Liebenberg explains how adults with untreated ADHD are eight times more likely to have their licenses suspended, three times more likely to have repeated violations, four times more likely to be at fault in an accident and two to seven times more likely to have multiple accidents.
“The proportion of the population who have more than one speeding ticket in a twelve month period is around 17%,” describes Liebenberg. “In adults with untreated ADHD, it’s 25%.”
As a result of impulsivity, adults with untreated ADHD frequently find themselves in heated road rage situations, says Liebenberg. These individuals often can’t control their tempers, and engage in confrontational situations when cut-off or just generally irritated in traffic.
“I’ve come across patients with untreated ADHD who’ve punched out windows and actually physically assaulted another road user, or purposefully rammed into opportunistic vehicles,” says Liebenberg. “This not only puts the individual with ADHD at risk, it endangers their passengers, opening them up to the possibility of a violent retaliation from the other road user.”
With the correct treatment, however, riding risks can be mitigated – if the medication is dosed correctly. Liebenberg advises against treatments that wear off in the afternoon, allowing the rider to become frustrated and distracted again when riding home.
“A long-acting, sustained treatment works best to manage the symptoms of ADHD throughout the day – including the ride home,” says Liebenberg. “In addition to medication, adults with ADHD also need to be aware of the dangers of riding with ADHD, so they know they’re possibly at risk – the more they know, the better they can manage the condition.”