Differential effects of stimulant versus opiate drugs on driving performance

Academic Article


  • Background and Aims: Pharmacological differences among different drug classes influence human cognition, visual, and motor behavior in different ways. These differences impact driving safety, and therefore individuals who use stimulant and opioid drugs might experience different patterns in driving safety and impairment in driving performance. This study examined the effect of long-term use of stimulant drugs and of opiate drugs on driving performance, hazard perception, visual search skills and psychomotor skills related to driving. Methods: A total of 75 individuals, including 28 predominantly stimulant users, 22 predominantly opiate users and 25 healthy non-drug users, participated. Driving performance and psychomotor skills were assessed via a 15-minute drive in a simulator; hazard perception was assessed via a computerized task; and visual search skill was assessed by eye tracking. Results: ANOVA analyses indicate both stimulant and opiate users drove at higher speeds and experienced more crashes than the healthy non-drug users. Stimulant but not opiate users violated red light regulations more often than the healthy non-drug users. In the hazard perception task, stimulant drug users performed more poorly than both opioid drug users and healthy non-drug users. Specifically, they had lower saccade movement scores and higher average fixation times. Conclusions: Results confirm that both stimulant drug users and opiate drug users show impaired driving performance compared to healthy non-drug users. Stimulant drug users possessed poorer hazard perception skills compared to the opiate users and the control group, perhaps as a result of cognitive deficits created by the drug use.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Tabibi Z; Schwebel DC; Moghaddam AM; Fadardi JS; Feizabadi SM
  • Volume

  • 150