Title of Presentation:
Depressed mood and alcohol in risky driving
Human factors are responsible for the majority of road traffic crashes worldwide. Poor executive functioning and mood states may contribute to a higher prevalence of risky driving. Furthermore, low doses of alcohol even within the legal limit may amplify these dangerous effects. Little is presently known about the role of impaired executive function in the links between mood and the decision to drive or mood and risky driving. The following randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, between-subjects studies seek to elucidate the synergistic effects of depressed mood and alcohol on driving performance and risky driving in a virtual-reality simulator.
This study measures driving performance and risky driving in healthy young adult males who have received either a depressed or neutral mood induction and either an alcoholic or placebo beverage. Working memory is tested as a potential mediator.
This study measures the frequency of the decision to drive while under the influence of alcohol in healthy male participants in either a dysthymic or euthymic state and who have received either an alcoholic or placebo beverage. Decision-making is tested as a potential mediator.
Should the results of these studies identify dangerous synergistic effects of depressed mood and alcohol, they will advance understanding of how even mild individual differences in cognition and affect interact to influence tasks such as driving, which rely heavily on executive functioning. Recommendations for more targeted injury prevention strategies may emerge, such as increased public awareness of the critical effects of mood on driving.