Methylphenidate enhances focus, control in drivers with ADHD.
Dr. Joris C. Verster and his colleagues at the University of Utrecht Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences, the Netherlands, compared the driving skills of 18 patients when they took their methylphenidate (Ritalin) with their ability when they went off medication.
Each patient made two 100-kilometer round trips in normal traffic. The protocol called for maintaining a steady speed of 95 km/hour while staying in the right lane. Twice each second, a camera on the automobile roof recorded the distance to the center of the road.
The patients, who were aged 21-30 years, were able to maintain a steady speed on both trips, but they weaved significantly more when they were not medicated, Dr. Verster reported in a poster at the annual congress of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology.
The weaving or standard deviation of lateral position was more pronounced on the return leg of the round trips, the investigators found.
"The problem is sustained attention. It takes 1 hour to perform the test. They see all sort of stuff on the side of the road, (such as) leaves falling from trees," said Dr. Verster, a psychologist.
"That is really concerning," he added. "When people don't take their medication, they drive worse."