There are a number of clinical applications for which a driving simulator is especially well suited. Examples are the treatment of fear of driving and the assessment of fitness to drive.
Treatment of fear of driving
A simulator is an effective tool in the treatment of fear of driving. It allows people to drive in a realistic driving environment for a prolonged period of time while actual risk of low. The ‘fear of driving’ module consists of a highway and a town scenario that can be driven for an extended period of time. Every 5 minutes the client is asked to rate the level of tension (anxiety) and although this will generally be high at the beginning of the drive, it will reduce after some time. This technique, also known as exposure in vivo, has been proved successful in the treatment of phobias.
Evaluation of fitness to drive
Existing methods to assess fitness to drive lack reliability and validity. Traditional eye tests and tests of urine samples are not very suitable to assess fitness to drive. Simulator tests can be a valuable addition to existing diagnostic instruments to evaluate fitness to drive. We have a number of reliable and valid tests for assessment of driver fitness. In these tests steer reaction time, brake reaction time, and workload while driving is tested. In addition there are a number of tests that bring the driver in more demanding situations with unexpected events that require a quick response.