N.A. Matas, T. Nettelbeck, N.R. Burns
Driving simulators are now widely available and frequently used for research, training, and assessment. For driving simulators to be a useful tool they must be valid, reliable, and acceptable to users. Driving simulator validity depends on the simulator used, the particular scenarios selected, and the population under consideration. We investigated the validity, reliability, and user acceptability of a fixed-base three-screen driving simulator in a sample of older adult drivers (N = 26, mean age = 73 years, SD = 5.2 years). Participants completed four tasks in the driving simulator: 1. A steering practice scenario (Task 1: Braking Practice), 2. A brake reaction time test (Task 2: Brake Reaction Time), 3. A distracted driving assessment (Task 3: Distracted Driving), 4. Driving in city traffic (Task 4: City Traffic Participation). Participants provided feedback on each scenario and the driving simulator in general. Participants also completed questionnaires related to their driving habits and history, their health status, and their familiarity with computers and technology. Results showed that participants had generally positive opinions towards the simulator and scenarios; that the distracted driving task and the city driving task demonstrated evidence of content and convergent validity respectively; and that the brake reaction time task had excellent test-retest reliability. Overall, the simulator and tasks appear to be appropriate for assessing driving performance in older adults.
Keywords: driving simulation; older adults; validation; simulator sickness; user feedback