Tuesday, March 27th, 2012
The New York Times has published an in-depth report on the challenges that face teenagers with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as they attempt to get drivers’ licenses. Citing a 2007 study that found ADHD drivers to be between two and four times more likely to have an accident than non-ADHD drivers, the report chronicles the problems teens with ADHD typically have with driving:
Researchers say that many teenagers with attention or other learning problems can become good drivers, but not easily or quickly, and that some will be better off not driving till they are older — or not at all.
The most obvious difficulty they face is inattention, the single leading cause of crashes among all drivers, said Bruce Simons-Morton, senior investigator at the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development in Bethesda, Md.
“When a driver takes his eyes off the road for two seconds or more, he’s doubled the risk of a crash,” he said.
Inexperienced drivers usually are distractible drivers. Dr. Simons-Morton cited a study on a closed course in which teenagers proved much more adept than adults at using cellphones while driving — and missed more stop signs.
The situation isn’t helped by how “noisy” cars have become, with cellphones, iPods and Bluetooth devices, said Lissa Robins Kapust, a social worker and coordinator of a driving program at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. “Driving is so busy on the inside and the outside of the car — it’s the most complex thing we do.”
But A.D.H.D. involves more than distractibility. Its other major trait is impulsiveness, which is often linked to high levels of risk-taking, said Dr. [Russell A.] Barkley [of the Medical University of South Carolina].
“It’s a bad combination” for young drivers, he said. “They’re more prone to crashes because of inattention, but the reason their crashes are so much worse is because they’re so often speeding.” Many drivers with A.D.H.D. overestimate their skills behind the wheel, Dr. Barkley noted.
Image: Teen taking driving test, via Shutterstock.
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Monday, January 16th, 2012
The National Vital Statistics program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released its findings on causes of death in 2010, and for children, the findings may be surprising and alarming.
Pediatrician Aaron Carroll parsed the figures on his blog and revealed that accidents, especially car accidents, were the number one killer of children ages 1-14, claiming 1,339 kids’ lives in 2010.
Surprisingly high on the list was homicide, ranking as the number 3 cause of death among 1-4 year-olds, and the number 5 cause among 5-14-year-olds. Among this latter group, homicide was edged out by suicide, which claimed 273 5-14 year-olds in 2010.
Cancer ranked second among 5-14 year-olds and 4th among 1-4 year-olds. Influenza was the sixth leading cause of death for 1-4 year-olds.
Carroll, who works in a children’s hospital, offered these insights into how health care providers can use this data:
I work in a children’s hospital, and I know legions of people who work every year to save kids lives. I think it’s one of the most worthy causes there is. But I rarely see massive campaigns and fund-raising drives to prevent assault and homicide. I don’t see many for suicide. I don’t see ribbons for safer cars. Yet these are the things that kill children in droves. More small children were killed in assaults than for all cancers combined. When you get into the 15-24 year old range, accidents (especially cars) are #1, homicide is #2, and suicide is #3.
Image: Police siren, via Shutterstock.
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Wednesday, September 14th, 2011
The Journal of the American Medical Association has released new data suggesting that some restrictions on teenage drivers–including limiting night driving–lowers the rate of fatal car crashes, but other restrictions, such as requiring teens to “graduate” from an interim license to a full one, can actually increase the fatal crash rate.
From a Health.com article published on CNN.com:
Between 1986 and 2007, the rate of fatal accidents involving 16-year-old drivers was 26% lower in states that prohibited teens from driving at night and carrying certain passengers, compared to states with neither restriction.
Among 18-year-olds, however, strong graduated driver licensing (GDL) programs were associated with a 12% increase in the fatal crash rate, which effectively cancelled out the benefits among younger drivers. When teen drivers of all ages were pooled together, the link between these programs and the rate of fatal crashes was statistically negligible.
[The study's lead author, Scott V.] Masten and his colleagues can’t explain the increase in traffic deaths among 18-year-olds, but they suggest that it may be a form of “payback” for the restrictions on younger drivers. By limiting teen driving, they explain, graduated-license laws may deprive younger teens of valuable driving experience, and in some cases may lead teens to delay getting a license altogether.
“They’re saying, ‘Forget it. I’ll wait till I’m 18,’” Masten says. “We have, at least in California, more novice 18- and 19-year-olds with no driving experience.”
All 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, have some form of graduated drivers’ licensing program.
(image via: http://www.garagefly.com/)
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Tuesday, July 19th, 2011
A study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics has found that grandparent drivers are generally safer with child passengers, safer even than the kids’ own parents. The study found that children who were involved in accidents where a grandparent was driving were at half the risk of injury as compared to those whose parents were driving the car.
Fred M. Henretig, the study’s lead researcher and a pediatrician and emergency room physician at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia told MSNBC.com:
“My hypothesis setting out was that grandparents may be putting their grandchildren at higher risk in crashes,” Henretig said, citing a range of factors from older cars and inadequately installed car seats to a general decline in driving ability.
But only about .7 percent of kids riding with grandparents were hurt, compared with 1.05 percent of kids riding with parents, a reduction of risk of about 33 percent. That rose to 50 percent when factors such as age, restraint use and crash characteristics were considered.
“Lo and behold, it turns out kids are only getting injured half as often,” Henretig said.
(image via: http://www.caringgrandparents.com/)
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