Methods utilised to evaluate reaction time comparisons

There are 5 main methods used to find safer drugs for patients driving vehicles.
These are by using on road driving tests, car simulators or with laboratory techniques to measure human reaction times in response to a stimulus, mobile phone applications to measure reaction times and electroencephalography.


On road driving tests usually consist of a road tracking test and a car following test. The parameters most commonly studied include are a standard deviation of lateral position (SDLP), time to speed adaptation (TSA) brake reaction time (BRT) and gain.
In road-tracking tests a subject operates a specially instrumented vehicle over a 100-km primary highway circuit while maintaining a constant speed (95 km/h) and a steady lateral position between the delineated boundaries of the right (slower) traffic lane.
An electro-optical device mounted at the rear of the car continually measures lateral distance separating the vehicle and the left lane.
Gain is measured as the amplification factor between the speed signals collected from both the leading and following vehicles and indicates the magnitude of overshoot in reaction.
The car-following test involves the use of two vehicles. The preceding vehicle is under an investigator’s control, and the following vehicle is under the subject’s control. The test begins with the two vehicles travelling in tandem at speeds of 70 km/hour on a secondary highway. Subjects attempt to drive 15–30 m behind the preceding vehicle and to maintain that headway as it executes a series of deceleration manoeuvres. During the test, the speed of the leading car is controlled automatically by a modified cruise-control system. Initially it is set to maintain a constant speed of 70 km/hour, and by activating a microprocessor the investigator can begin sinusoidal speed changes reaching amplitude of -10 km/hour and returning to the starting level within 50 seconds. The manoeuvre is usually repeated six times.
Between deceleration manoeuvres, the investigator in the leading car randomly activates the brake lights of his vehicle by activating a second mode of the microprocessor.
The brake lights then light for 3 seconds, whereas the speed of the leading car remains constant at 70 km/hour.
The subject is instructed to react to brake lights by removing his/her foot from the speed pedal.


The National Advanced Driving Simulator (NADS) is located at the University of Iowa’s Research Park at the University of Iowa and is a self-sustained transportation safety research centre. (
This organisation is an independent and self-funded research unit.
All staff and graduate and undergraduate students are funded by external contracts.
It utilises world-class driving simulators and instrumented vehicles to conduct research studies for the private and public sectors.
Driving Simulation research at NADS focuses on assessing cognitive and physical ability, gaining an understanding of driver performance and behaviour, testing vehicle design in virtual proving grounds and training of drivers.
Simulation technologies facilitates the testing of collision warning technologies that uses real human drivers in a range of vehicle types and driving conditions.
A key component of their research is the study of drugs and their effects on driving.
The research areas of interest include human factors, vehicle safety systems, driver impairment, driver distraction, connected vehicle technologies, automated vehicles and simulation and on-road data collection technologies.
The range of driving simulators includes the NADS-1 which is the world’s highest-fidelity simulator.
Additional simulators includes the NADS MIniSim that is a low cost PC-based portable simulator that has 50 MIniSims installed throughout North America.

The STISIM Drive® M500 system is an interactive driving simulator powered by the programmable STISIM Drive® software engine.
It is a fully interactive virtual reality driving simulator that is engineered to utilise cutting edge computer technology. (
The performance measurements include: Accident Counts data such as vehicle, pedestrian, obstacles and off-road information.
Brake and Accelerator data that measures speeding behaviour, reaction time, time to collision and tailgating. Steering and Handling information that measures Lane position and deviation, centreline and edge crossings. Driver Compliance/Attention data that quantifies responses to Signal lights, signs, turning and divided attention.

Cognitive Research Corporations customized driving simulator (the CRCDS) is utilised to measure the effects of trauma, age, neurologic disease, alcohol and fatigue on driving performance. It is also designed to study the effects of a wide variety of drugs on driving abilities in both normal and patient populations. The CRCDS consists of 3 networked personal computers, high fidelity driving controls, and use of multiple, linked video monitors that provides a wide field of view to maximize subject immersion and realism. The driving scenarios developed for the CRCDS were designed to assess an assorted range of psychomotor, divided attention and cognitive tasks involved in driving. (
The simulator uses advanced three-dimensional (3D) graphics that generates realistic representations of various driving environments. The visual environment includes the vehicle dashboard, horizon, roadway, secondary task displays, intersections, traffic control devices and interacting traffic.
Auditory feedback is provided for acceleration limits, engine speed and for an indication of excessive cornering speed, or excessive deceleration when braking.
Steering sensitivity is adjusted as a function of vehicle speed.
The CRCDS enables automated measurements of psychomotor functioning, divided attention, situational awareness and additional cognitive behaviours. CRC has developed equivalent versions of various driving simulation tasks (scenarios) that allow for re-testing while minimizing practice effects. Several CRCDS scenarios have proven to be highly sensitive to both therapeutic and adverse drug effects.

Compulsory Driving Simulator Training in Singapore

From 2019 it is essential that all people undertaking a learner permit for driving in Singapore must undergo driver simulator training at one of these 3 driving centres in Singapore.

These are the Bukit Batok Driving Centre, Singapore Driving Centre and the Comfort DelGro Driving Centre.

Simulation driving at Comfort DelGro driving centre

The ComfortDelgro Driving entre has 3 driving simulators that evaluate different driving scenarios such as driving under the influence of alcohol and navigating poor weather conditions among others, when undertaking a simulation training programme.

The Simulation training allows learner motorists to practice defensive driving and riding.

Unlike traditional methods, simulation training enables learner motorists to undergo experiential learning and experience real-life traffic situations in a safe and controlled environment.

The3 modules with scenarios based on top causes of accidents in Singapore.

Learner motorists, both drivers and motorcyclists — will complete three modules, each lasting around 20 minutes.

Each module comprises different situations, set on Singapore’s roads.

The scenarios are based on the top causes of accidents in the city state that includes .driving during heavy rain, accident occurring due to failure to check blind-spots, as well as drink-driving.

If a student motorist meets with an accident on the simulator, a virtual instructor will give advice on how to avoid those situations.

The virtual instructor will also encourage learners when they practice good road habits, such as slowing down when traffic lights flash amber.

Learners, regardless of whether they are enrolled in a driving school or taught by a private driving instructor must attend the training before they can book a date for the practical test.

The pre-requisite for going through the 3 modules is to complete at least 3 practical driving lessons.

Essential Reaction Time Test in Thailand

It is a mandatory requirement to undertake and pass a driver reaction time test prior to being issued a driver’s license in Thailand.

Ohio Portable Driver Simulators Improve Driving Skills

The state of Ohio in the US has introduced a pilot program that uses portable driver simulator systems to assess the skills of new drivers prior to undertaking their road tests for permanent licenses.

The initiative aims to transform the testing procedure for first time drivers so that they are safer when they start driving on their own.

Novice drivers are at high risk for crashes, especially in the early months after becoming licensed.

The goal of these simulators is for them to act as safety screeners emulating ‘real driving’ situations for first time driver testers before they continue with the manoeuvrability and skill testing.


Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit (BPRU)

The Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit (BPRU) is a broad-based substance abuse clinical research program that encompasses both human laboratory research and outpatient treatment research.

It is located on the John Hopkins Bayview Campus in the Behavioral Biology Research Center, where it has resources for clinical pharmacology and drug-administration studies, outpatient therapeutic trials, and residential laboratory studies.

BPRU is one of very few laboratories that directly examines the effects of such a broad range of drugs administered under controlled circumstances to human volunteers in the laboratory.

Randomized double blind, placebo controlled studies measuring simple, recognition and choice reaction times under standard laboratory conditions at the BPRU, make it an ideal venue to rapidly conduct meticulous research investigations.


Very sensitive mobile phone applications have been developed to measure reaction times that can readily be utilised by law enforcement agencies as roadside tests as well as in research studies.

The potential also exists for individuals to measure their own reaction times prior to the commencement of driving with these technologies.


Electroencephalography( EEG) is a very exciting new research tool.

It can be inexpensively and easily acquired during simulated and on-road driving assessments.

EEG metrics acquired during a sustained 3-Choice-Vigilance Task (3CVT) are associated with driving performance, and these metrics could potentially be used to assess whether an individual has the cognitive skills necessary for safe driving.


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