The ability to handle complex traffic situations is a challenging task. Transportation on a bicycle, as a pedestrian or driving a car in a safe and efficient way requires handling skills, appropriate sensation of sound and visual impulses and relevant quick responses. In all societies the right to drive a car is initiated with drivers education and a standardised test. But when an acute onset disease such as stroke or a traumatic injury affects the senses or ability to drive there is no standardised quality assured or verified test available. Several reseach studies indicate that usual validity criteria (face validity, reproducibility, acceptance etc.) is fulfilled for driving simulators. Since testing of driving ability in a computer based simulator is basically without risk – this offers an opportunity to develop methods for individual guidance of patients in temporary lowered functional states, e.g.lower limb fractures.
Method A driving simulator software was tested in a transportable module in a university outpatient clinic. The test route included different topics (passing a camper on a narrow road, bicycles approaching, pedestrian crossing unexpectedly, ‘annoying other trafficant’ stopping suddenly, passing trucks on a highway in heavy rain and evening light).
Results In contrast to previous pilot routes all 45 testpersons except four completed the route. None developed driving sickness. Driving time differed from 3–12 min for completion of the route. Adherence to precise driving varied with age (eg not hitting pedestrians or bicycles) and a larger proportion of elderly and women had difficulties passing the camper on the narrow road). User evaluation clearly indicated need for pre-test adaptation with regular driving before experiencing ‘planned’ disturbances.
Conclusion Even short tests of driving in a simulator can show variability among drivers, which indicates a potential role in future valid reproducible driving tests and subsequently rehabilitation of patients
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