Conference Proceeding

Demographic and Driving Performance Factors in Simulator Adaptation Syndrome

  • Matthew Rizzo (University of Iowa, Iowa City)
  • Peter A Sheffield (University of Iowa, Iowa City)
  • Laura Stierman (University of Iowa, Iowa City)
  • Jeffrey Dawson (University of Iowa, Iowa City)


Simulation is an important option for testing at-risk drivers with medical impairments. Simulator Adaptation Syndrome (SAS), characterized by autonomic symptoms, presents a drawback to testing. This study investigated new issues regarding susceptibility of neurologically impaired drivers to SAS, scenario situations most likely to cause SAS, and effects of SAS on driver performance. Subjects were 164 drivers enrolled in larger ongoing studies of at-risk older drivers. Eighteen had Alzheimer’s disease (AD), 44 stroke, and 102 were neurologically normal controls. Experimental drives were conducted using a fixed-base high-fidelity simulator with a 150º forward field of view. Each driver completed a questionnaire immediately after driving in the simulator, rating any feelings of discomfort along nine dimensions; an overall discomfort score was calculated. Of the 164 drivers, 130 completed the full drive and 34 ended the drive early. Drivers with higher overall discomfort scores were more likely to drop out before completing a drive. Specific symptoms strongly predicted dropping out, namely dizziness, nervousness, light-headedness, body temperature increase, and nausea. Simulator dropout rates and reported discomfort scores were significantly greater in women than men, but did not differ between drivers with AD or stroke and neurologically normal drivers. Comparisons between 32 Dropouts and 32 Non-Dropouts (matched by age, gender, neurological impairment, and scenario driven) showed no evidence that higher levels of discomfort cause a driver to perform atypically before the point of dropout. We could relate dropout to specific segments and events in the drive that required abrupt braking.

How to Cite:

Rizzo, M. & Sheffield, P. & Stierman, L. & Dawson, J., (2003) “Demographic and Driving Performance Factors in Simulator Adaptation Syndrome”, Driving Assessment Conference 2(2003), 201-208. doi:

Rights: Copyright © 2003 the authors

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Published on
23 Jul 2003
Peer Reviewed