Alcohol and Driving and Simulation


What’s the significance of alcohol + driving + simulation? Namely this: state-of-the-art driving simulators provide life-like driving experiences while reproducing the outside driving conditions and duplicating the operation of a vehicle in unusual situations (such as “driving under the influence” of alcohol or drugs).

Without these driving simulators, it would be extremely difficult to discover accurate and relevant information about driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The Beneficial Aspects of Driving Simulators

Driving simulators create an opportunity to train and evaluate existing or new drivers as they complete a wide variety of multifaceted simulated exercises and activities.

For instance, highly realistic “scenes” can be part of the process so that drivers can be feel part of the total driving experience.

Not only this, but top-flight driving simulators can provide information about driving while the person is “under the influence of alcohol” without actually using real alcohol.

In a word, the incorporation of quality visual and audio systems help make the driving experience as realistic as possible.

In addition, the better driving simulators can be programmed to move in such a manner that they replicate driving tasks such as braking, acceleration, driving up inclines or down declines, and driving under various loads.

The Simulation of Weather Effects

Simulated scenes can produce varying weather effects such as sun, fog, rain, or snow with the click of a button and can repeatedly produce occurrences such as a tire blow-out. Current simulation experts are working on replicating the following driving situations:

  • A person driving after consuming alcohol

  • The results of driving while on a cell phone or under the influence of recreational or prescription drugs

Fairly recently, a simulation manufacturer developed an “impaired driving simulator” for the DUI Task Force of the Tucson Arizona Police Department.

This “drunk-driving simulator” has a custom interface that will let the user choose the desired level of impairment. In this scenario, the blood alcohol concentration level that is chosen will be displayed to the driver and a driving exercise will start.

The driving simulator can be calibrated to replicate the effects of driving while impaired. This can be done, for instance, by increasing the time delays between steering input and vehicle response and also narrowing the driving scene to mirror the “tunnel vision” typically experienced by highly impaired drivers.

Other Driving Simulation Research

Even though alcohol consumption and sleepiness are separate causes for motor vehicle crashes, research findings reveal verification of an overlap. For instance, one study found that drivers had consumed some alcohol in nearly 20% of all sleepiness-related, single-vehicle accidents.

In another study, more than 33% of New York State drivers surveyed in drowsy-driving accidents revealed that they had consumed some alcohol. And according to New York state police reports, fall-asleep accidents with alcohol involvement occurred more frequently than other types of accidents.

Lab experiments actually predict and explain these patterns. For example, numerous researchers have demonstrated that alcohol ingestion and sleepiness interact, with sleep deprivation intensifying the sedating properties of alcohol.

In addition, the combination of both factors negatively affect psychomotor skills more than alcohol consumption or sleepiness alone.

Driving simulation tests, moreover, demonstrate the relationship between sleepiness and alcohol ingestion even with low alcohol consumption, low blood alcohol content (BAC) levels, and slight reductions in sleep.

One driving simulation study revealed that BAC levels less than the legal driving limit resulted in more subjects driving off the road after 4 hours of sleep compared with 8 hours of sleep.

Conclusion: Alcohol + Driving + Simulation

Based on the above discussion of driving simulators, it appears that alcohol + driving + simulation equals a realistic form of training and experimentation that can provide a wealth of information that would be almost impossible to capture in live driving situations.

In conclusion, alcohol + driving + simulation = a safe an effective way to measure driving situations (such as driving while impaired or driving “under the influence” of alcohol or drugs) that are difficult, if not impossible to calculate in real life driving conditions.