Conference Proceeding

Inhibitory Control and Reward Predict Risky Driving in Young Novice Drivers: A Simulator Study

  • Ellen Jongen (Hasselt University, Diepenbeek, Belgium)
  • Kris Brijs (Hasselt University, Diepenbeek, Belgium)
  • Marcell Komlos (Hasselt University, Diepenbeek, Belgium)
  • Tom Brijs (Hasselt University, Diepenbeek, Belgium)
  • Geert Wets (Hasselt University, Diepenbeek, Belgium)


The purpose of our study is to unravel the cognitive mechanisms that underlie risky driving in young novice drivers. Based on the two pillars of the Dual Systems Model of adolescent risk taking, we hypothesized that (1) lower capacity for cognitive control (inhibitory control), (2) a rewarding context, and (3) the interaction of these predict risky driving and constitute part of the cognitive basis for the large number of crashes in the young novice driver population. Two groups different in age (n=31, 17-18 year-olds; n=22, 22-24 year-olds), but equal in driving experience participated in our experiment. Each participant completed two 28km test-drives in a STISIM M400 driving simulator. In the first drive, participants were asked to drive as they normally do. For the second drive, participants were told they could obtain a monetary reward for completing the drive as fast as possible, although for each collision or traffic violation (except speeding), penalty time would be imposed. Inhibitory control was measured by means of a stop signal reaction time task (SSRT). Measures of risky driving included: standard deviation of lateral lane position (SDLP), responses to critical events, speeding, and red light running. We found that: (1) inhibitory control still improves within the young driver population; (2) lowered inhibitory control had a driving specific effect: drivers with lower inhibitory control (SSRT) had a higher SDLP; (3) a rewarding context predicts risky driving as speeding and red light running occurred more often in the trip with than without reward.

How to Cite:

Jongen, E. & Brijs, K. & Komlos, M. & Brijs, T. & Wets, G., (2011) “Inhibitory Control and Reward Predict Risky Driving in Young Novice Drivers: A Simulator Study”, Driving Assessment Conference 6(2011), 539-546. doi:

Rights: Copyright © 2011 the author(s)

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Published on
30 Jun 2011
Peer Reviewed