Gap Acceptance and Risk-Taking by Young and Mature Drivers, Both Sober and Alcohol-Intoxicated, in a Simulated Driving Task

To determine how age, combined with a modest dose of alcohol, influenced performance on a driving simulator, researchers conducted a single-blind randomized study was conducted on young (18-21 years, n = 16) and mature (25-35 years, n = 16) drivers. The driving tasks included detecting the presence of a vehicle on the horizon as quickly as possible, estimating the point on the road that an approaching vehicle would have passed by the participants’ vehicle (time-to-collision), and overtaking another vehicle against steady oncoming traffic. The results of the vehicle detection task revealed that detection times were much slower with maturity, alcohol consumption, and lower approaching vehicle speeds, especially on curved sections of road. Approaching vehicle speed was also found to significantly influence time-to-collision judgments. This meant that faster approach speeds led to less underestimated, and therefore riskier, judgments of time-to-collision than slower speeds. In the overtaking task, mature drivers showed impaired discrimination skills with varying approaching vehicle speeds. Young drivers demonstrated significantly slower speeds while overtaking a vehicle, thus increasing the time that they spent in the opposing lane. This study found that young and mature drivers demonstrated pivotal differences in behavior. Young drivers tended to engage in risky driving, while mature and experienced drivers were more susceptible to perceptual influences. Alcohol consumption impaired a driver's ability to divide attention, but did not significantly affect their decision-making abilities.


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  • Accession Number: 01013461
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, ATRI
  • Created Date: Dec 6 2005 6:25PM