Influence of stimulant and non-stimulant drug treatment on driving performance in patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: a systematic review

Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2014 Sep;24(9):1425-43. doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2014.06.006. Epub 2014 Jun 28.


Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), especially teenagers and young adults, show important car driving impairments, including risky driving, accidents, fines and suspension of driver׳s license. We systematically reviewed the efficacy of stimulant and non-stimulant drugs on driving performance of ADHD patients. We searched several databases for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) published through March, 2013. Fifteen RCTs (the majority with crossover design) evaluated methylphenidate (MPH) immediate-release (MPH-IR), MPH osmotic-controlled oral system (MPH-OROS), MPH transdermal system (MTS), extended-release mixed amphetamine salts (MAS-XR); atomoxetine (ATX) and lisdexamfetamine (LDX). Methods varied widely; including simulators and/or cars and different courses and scenarios. Various outcomes of driving performance, including a 'composite' or 'overall' driving score were considered. In general, stimulants improved driving performance in ADHD patients (either in RCTs conducted in simulators and/or cars). MPH-OROS improved driving performance compared with MAS-XR, placebo, or no-drug conditions. Although MPH-OROS and MPH-IR produced similar improvements during the day, MPH-IR lost its efficacy in the evening. MAS-XR also improved driving performance, but worsened driving performance in the evening. MTS (one study) showed a positive effect, but drug compliance varied widely across patients. LDX had positive effect on driving (two studies with the same sample). Studies with ATX report conflicting results. Improvement was more consistent in teenagers and young adults. In general, treatment with psychostimulants or ATX in therapeutic dosages had no negative impact on driving performance of ADHD patients. To conclude, treatment with stimulants in therapeutic doses improves driving performance in ADHD patients, especially teenagers and young adults.

Keywords: Atomoxetine; Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; Driving; Psychostimulants; Treatment.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / complications*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / drug therapy
  • Automobile Driving*
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Psychomotor Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Psychomotor Disorders / etiology*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants