Background: Only few studies with small experimental samples investigated the impact of psychoactive substances on driving performance. We conducted a multicenter international cross-sectional study to evaluate the correlation between alcohol use and driving-related skill as measured by brake reaction time (RT). Methods. Before and after the entrance into randomly selected recreational sites from six European countries, all subjects aged 16-35 years, owning a driver license, were asked to compile a structured socio-demographic questionnaire and measure RT (SimuNomad3 driving simulator), breath alcohol concentration (BAC; Drager Alcoltest), and drug use (Oratect III saliva test, only at the exit). Mixed regression modeling was used to evaluate the independent association between RT and alcohol concentration or drug use. Results: Before the entrance into the recreational site, 4534 subjects completed all assessments and composed the final sample. Their mean age was 23.1 4.2y; 68.3% were males; 54.7% had BAC > 0 g/L (assumed alcoholics); 7.5% declared illegal drug assumption (mostly cannabis). After the exit, 3019 also completed the second assessment: 71.7% showed BAC > 0 g/L. Controlling for age, gender, educational level, occupation, driver license years, and drug use, BAC was positively associated with RT, achieving significance, however, only when BAC was higher than 0.49 g/L. Significant interaction terms were found between BAC and female gender or drug use, with highest RTs (> 1 sec.) recorded among drug users with BAC > = 1 g/L. Conclusions: This field study confirms previous experimental data on the negative impact of alcohol use on driving-related skill, supporting regulations and educational campaigns aimed at discouraging driving after consumption of psychoactive substances.
Field of Science*
- 3.3 Health sciences
- 1.1. Scientific article indexed in Web of Science and/or Scopus database