Effect of alcohol use on accelerating and braking behaviors of drivers
Objective: The present study examines the accelerating and braking behaviors of drivers at different blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) in heterogeneous driving conditions using driving simulator experiments.
Methods: Eighty-two licensed drivers performed simulated driving in a rural road environment designed in the driving simulator at 4 BAC levels: 0.00, 0.03, 0.05, and 0.08%. Driving performance was analyzed using vehicle control variables such as mean acceleration and mean brake pedal force. Generalized linear mixed models were developed to quantify the effect of different alcohol levels and explanatory variables such as driver’s age, gender, and other factors on the driving performance indicators.
Results: Alcohol use was reported as a significant factor affecting the accelerating and braking performance of drivers. The acceleration model results indicated that drivers’ mean acceleration increased by 0.013, 0.026, and 0.027 m/s2 for BAC levels of 0.03, 0.05, and 0.08%, respectively. Results of the brake pedal force model showed that drivers’ mean brake pedal force increased by 1.09, 1.32, and 1.44 N for BAC levels of 0.03, 0.05, and 0.08%, respectively. Age was a significant factor in both the models where a 1-year increase in driver age resulted in a 0.2% reduction in mean acceleration and a 19% reduction in mean brake pedal force. Driving experience could compensate for the negative effects of alcohol to some extent while driving.
Conclusions: The findings of the present study revealed that drivers tend to be more aggressive and impulsive under the influence of alcohol, which deteriorates their driving performance. Impairment in accelerating and braking behaviors of drivers under the influence of alcohol leads to increased crash probabilities. The conclusions may provide reference in making countermeasures against drinking and driving and contribute to traffic safety.