Simulator studies of drug-induced driving impairment

  • Anthony Liguori


Driving simulators provide a safe means of identifying and comparing drug effects within a driver. While the scientific and societal benefits of driving simulators are numerous, the absence of a “standard” simulator has increased the difficulty of drawing conclusions across studies. This chapter compares the design of and results from driving simulators in substance abuse research from the past decade.

Simulators: The National Advanced Driving Simulator is an elevated enclosed dome that houses an entire vehicle with full instrumentation and a 360-degree perspective. Its realism is unparalleled, but it is typically not used for substance abuse research. The Advanced Mobile Operations Simulator (AMOS) is sensitive to alcohol effects, but provides no outcome measures other than brake latency. The AusED Driving Simulator features a task design similar to that of the AMOS, but at a lower speed and at a different simulated time of day. It is particularly sensitive to sleepiness. The University of Helsinki Driving Simulator resembles the AMOS task in its brevity and limited number of dependent measures, and is sensitive to sedative drug effects. The Cyber CAR LITE uses one large white screen rather than computer monitors. Highway and urban driving are simulated in day and night conditions. The STISIM Drive simulation allows for a longer, more realistic, and more interactive driving experience than the AMOS, and is sensitive to alcohol impairments.

Outcome measures: Deviation from lateral position and reaction time have been increased by benzodiazepines and alcohol. Vehicle Speed has been characterized as insensitive to drug effects.

Future directions: The standard measures of lane deviation, reaction time, and speed may be sufficient for identification of basic behavioral impairments. Yet other aspects of drug-related accidents — including manipulations of weather, time of day, traffic conditions, decision making, risk taking, divided attention, and sleep deprivation — deserve further study.


Simulated Driving Lane Deviation Substance Abuse Research Accident Anal KDYH EHHQ 
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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag/Switzerland 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anthony Liguori
    • 1
  1. 1.Wake Forest University School of MedicineMedical Center BoulevardWinston-SalemUSA

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