Assessment of Driver Impairment: Evaluation of a Two-Choice Tester Using Ethanol

This paper reports on a crossover study to evaluate the sensitivity to ethanol of a portable performance tester designed for roadside use. In the study, fifteen healthy volunteers aged 18-35 years received by mouth placebo and two doses of ethanol on separate days. Doses were calculated to produce blood alcohol levels of 50 and 80 mg/100 ml. Testing was carried out before the drink and starting at 40 min after the drink. Breathalyzer readings showed peak blood alcohol levels of 54.4 mg/100 ml (S.D 11.1) for the smaller dose and 83.0 mg/100 ml (S.D. 8.4) at the larger dose. Significant impairment was seen with the larger dose of ethanol. Response time was increased for the arrow flankers test (attention in the presence of distractors), and errors were increased for paired associates (visuospatial working memory) and for length estimation (judgement). A composite measure showed a clear dose-related pattern of impairment. These results indicate that a short test battery taking about ten minutes to complete can reliably show the effects of ethanol under controlled laboratory conditions. Future research is needed to address issues of discriminability, as well as extending the use of this test battery to larger populations and in situations that more closely resemble the intended roadside use.


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  • Accession Number: 01003402
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, ATRI
  • Created Date: Aug 27 2005 5:54PM