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Study finds children with ADHD at elevated risk of traffic accidents

When it comes to transportation, the options for most kids can be narrowed down to getting a ride, going by foot or riding a bicycle. As you can probably guess, many kids opt for the third option, preferring the relative speed and autonomy of their bicycles.

The unfortunate reality, however, is that riding a bicycle, perhaps more than going by car or foot, is fraught with danger. Indeed, statistics show that bicycle accidents are one of the leading causes of serious personal injuries among children, sending nearly 400,000 of them to emergency rooms every year.

Interestingly enough, a recently released study by researchers at the University of Iowa determined that children who have been diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder are actually at an even greater risk of being involved in a serious bike accident.

As part of their study, the researchers recruited 63 children between the ages of 10-14, 36 of whom did not have ADHD, and 27 of whom were diagnosed with the condition and not taking medication. Using a stationary bike and computer technology, they then measured how well these children navigated varying levels of traffic at a simulated intersection.

They made the following findings:

  • Children with ADHD had a harder time gauging when it was safe to cross the street after being subjected to simulations showing heavy traffic levels followed by more moderate traffic levels, continuing to choose shorter gaps between cars rather than waiting for longer gaps.
  • Children with ADHD were often less precise in judging when to cross the intersection and had less time to spare.

As discouraging as these findings were, the researchers did indicate that there was one simple step that children with ADHD could be taught to make crossing the street much safer: help them learn how to effectively spot longer gaps in traffic.

"Even if their timing remains off, if they have a big enough gap, they will be OK," said the primary author of the study. "If we can have some intervention or prevention strategies that focus on the decision-making, that may help compensate for the timing deficit."

Please remember that if you or your loved one has been seriously injured in a bicycle accident caused by an inattentive driver that you do have options for holding them accountable.

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