Sensitivity and validity of psychometric tests for assessing driving impairment: effects of sleep deprivation

Stefan Jongen*, Joy Perrier, Eric F Vuurman, Johannes G Ramaekers, Annemiek Vermeeren

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


OBJECTIVE: To assess drug induced driving impairment, initial screening is needed. However, no consensus has been reached about which initial screening tools have to be used. The present study aims to determine the ability of a battery of psychometric tests to detect performance impairing effects of clinically relevant levels of drowsiness as induced by one night of sleep deprivation. METHODS: Twenty four healthy volunteers participated in a 2-period crossover study in which the highway driving test was conducted twice: once after normal sleep and once after one night of sleep deprivation. The psychometric tests were conducted on 4 occasions: once after normal sleep (at 11 am) and three times during a single night of sleep deprivation (at 1 am, 5 am, and 11 am). RESULTS: On-the-road driving performance was significantly impaired after sleep deprivation, as measured by an increase in Standard Deviation of Lateral Position (SDLP) of 3.1 cm compared to performance after a normal night of sleep. At 5 am, performance in most psychometric tests showed significant impairment. As expected, largest effect sizes were found on performance in the Psychomotor Vigilance Test (PVT). Large effects sizes were also found in the Divided Attention Test (DAT), the Attention Network Test (ANT), and the test for Useful Field of View (UFOV) at 5 and 11 am during sleep deprivation. Effects of sleep deprivation on SDLP correlated significantly with performance changes in the PVT and the DAT, but not with performance changes in the UFOV. CONCLUSION: From the psychometric tests used in this study, the PVT and DAT seem most promising for initial evaluation of drug impairment based on sensitivity and correlations with driving impairment. Further studies are needed to assess the sensitivity and validity of these psychometric tests after benchmark sedative drug use.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0117045
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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