Behavior Disorders Boost Crash Risk for Teen Boys: Study

FRIDAY Nov. 19, 2010 -- Male teens with disruptive behavior disorders have a one-third increased risk of being seriously injured in a traffic crash, either as a driver or a pedestrian, new research has found.

Their increased risk is similar to that of epilepsy patients, said Dr. Donald Redelmeier, from the University of Toronto in Canada, and his colleagues.

Disruptive behavior disorders include attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), conduct disorder and oppositional defiant disorder.

The seven-year study, published in the Nov. 16 online edition of the journal PLoS Medicine, included 3,421 male teens aged 16 to 19 who were admitted to the hospital after a traffic crash. The increased risk associated with disruptive behavior disorders remained after the researchers accounted for factors such as age, social status and home location.

The study authors did not document who was at fault in the crashes but suggested that disruptive behavioral disorders may impair a teen's ability to avoid a crash triggered by another person.

Disruptive behavioral disorders might be considered as contributors to traffic crashes -- similar to epilepsy, diabetes and some other medical conditions -- but do not justify withholding a driver's license from teens, Redelmeier and colleagues emphasized.

Instead, the authors suggested a number of ways to reduce risk, including: keeping speed under control, restricting alcohol, minimizing distractions, wearing seatbelts, keeping a safe distance from other vehicles, and obeying medical advice.

"Greater attention by primary care physicians, psychiatrists and community health workers might be helpful since practical recommendations might reduce the risk," Redelmeier's team explained in a news release from the journal.

More information

The Mental Health Association of Westchester County, N.Y., has more about disruptive behavior disorders.

Posted: November 2010


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