CONTACT: GARY GALLUZZO
300 Plaza Centre One
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0009; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Dec. 31, 2002
NADS awarded $2.9 million for alcohol and driver performance research
The National Advanced Driving Simulator at the University of Iowa has received
$2.9 million from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
to research the influence of alcohol on driver performance and behavior.
The $2.9 million award is the first part of a proposed $5.1 million overall
NADS project and will include a series of studies to be conducted over the
next three years.
NHTSA estimates that in 2000, alcohol was involved in 40 percent of fatal
crashes as well as in eight percent of all crashes and that about three of
every 10 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some time
during their lives.
These studies are so important because we are able to provide very
realistic driving conditions to determine the degree of impairment associated
with a particular blood alcohol concentration (BAC), a situation that cannot
be safely duplicated on the open road," says Ginger Watson, NADS principal
investigator and chief applications scientist. "Unfortunately, much of
the information available about the impact of alcohol on safety is from collision
statistics where someone has been injured or killed, and these data often
dont tell us what led to the crash. This work may help us understand
the effects of alcohol in situations known to be over-represented for alcohol-related
crashes so that we might one day see substantially fewer such crashes.
Early studies will concentrate on impairment associated with various levels
of BAC, ranging from 0.02 percent to as high as 0.10 percent and will include
drivers of various ages and with different drinking practices. In later studies,
drivers will experience variations in environmental conditions and roadway
situations such as denser traffic and roadway types and will be given realistic
in-vehicle tasks such as talking on a cell phone, eating, drinking, or changing
a CD while driving at various BAC levels.
A final study will examine how time of day influences the degree to which
the BAC level degrades driving performance. Studies will be conducted throughout
the day, including nighttime, to realistically assess these effects. NHTSA
estimates the rate of alcohol involvement in fatal crashes is more than three
times as high at night as during the day. For all crashes, the alcohol involvement
rate is more than four times as high at night.
In addition to researchers at the NADS/ University of Iowa, experts from
Southern California Research Institute, Pacific Institute for Research &
Evaluation, Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, and Battelle will collaborate
on the project.
Data collection is expected to begin in the spring of 2003 and continue periodically
into the summer of 2005. Persons who live near the NADS and who would like
to participate in a NADS study are asked to call the NADS hot line at (319)
335-4719 or register on line at www.nads-sc.uiowa.edu/forms/new/recruit.htm.
The NADS is the largest and most sophisticated research-oriented driving
simulator in the world. It was built to conduct research that will ultimately
lead to reductions in the number of traffic-related deaths, injuries, and
incidents of property loss on the nations highways. The NADS, located
at the University of Iowas Oakdale Research Park, is a national shared-use
facility owned by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the
Department of Transportation and operated by the University of Iowa.