Investigators

Gary Gaffney
The University of Iowa
Department of Psychiatry
Tim Brown
The University of Iowa
National Advanced Driving Simulator

Final Report

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Final Report Summary

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Project

Drugged Driving: Effects of Pain and Anxiety Medications on Driving Performance in a Simulator

As prescription drug use and abuse continues to rise, it is imperative that their effects on driving performance, a task conducted by most adults in the U.S. daily, are characterized. Opioid analgesics (ex. hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine) and benzodiazepine (ex. alprazolam, diazepam) are commonly used together either therapeutically or recreationally, which enhances effects of each. This work will strive to examine the effects of Xanax (alprazolam) and Vicodin (hydrocodone/acetaminophen) on electrical brain activity using electroencephalogram (EEG), as well as applied driving performance on the National Automotive Driving Simulator (NADS) miniSim research driving simulator. Research participants will complete four testing visits involving baseline blood toxicology measurements, administration of study drugs (either active or matching placebo), post-dose/pre-drive blood toxicology measurement, a 45 minute study drive, and post-drive blood toxicology. The study drive being employed for this work has been utilized in examinations of many different impairing substances including alcohol, cannabis, antihistamines, caffeine, amphetamines, and benzodiazepines. By using the same driving scenario, and a very similar protocol to previous work, researchers will be able to compare pharmacodynamic effects between drug classes, providing a more clear look at the effects of these drugs both alone and in combination on driving performance.