Time of day, alcohol and driving-related performance (1995)
Type of ContentTheses / Dissertations
Degree NameMaster of Arts
PublisherUniversity of Canterbury
The performance inhibiting effects of alcohol on the type of the psychomotor skills employed during driving are well documented. Circadian rhythmicity is known to impact independently on both driving related performance and the physiological effects of various drugs. The question with which this study is concerned is whether the effects of alcohol on driving related performance are constant across time, or variable according to the phase of the circadian cycle at which the alcohol is ingested and the task performed. Research specific to circadian mediation of alcohol related performance is sparse. Few studies (Reinberg, 1992) have examined multiple time conditions using a within groups repeated measures experimental design. In susceptibility to time of day performance fluctuation as in the extent of alcohol effects, the nature and duration of the task are important mediates. Significant alcohol time oJ day interaction has been demonstrated in the afternoon relative to evening performance on medium length cognitive, visual and auditory vigilance tasks. The present study compares alcohol relative to nil alcohol performance on a battery ofbrieJ psychomotor tasks at 0900, 1300, 1800 and 0100 hours. Sixteen male non-combatant soldiers with a mean age of 29 acted as subjects in a within groups repeated measures design. A dose of 2.26 ml of (37%) alcohol per kg of body weight was administered with a light meal to attain a blood alcohol level approximating 80mg/100 ml of blood, the legal maximum concentration for a full license holding New Zealand driver (Ferrimond, 1990). ANVOA's were calculated in respect of tracking accuracy, lag and reaction time measures. Overall tracking accuracy as indicated by mean error measures was significantly effected by alcohol. The impact of alcohol on lag varied with the level of task unpredictability, with non-preview tracking tasks more susceptible to the performance inhibiting effects of alcohol. No significant alcohol x time of day interaction was recorded for mean error, lag or reaction time measure on any of the seven tracking tasks under analysis of alcohol relative to nil alcohol performance across the four times of day. Findings are discussed firstly, in terms of their implications for road safety, and secondly, in contrast with previous chronobiological research, pertaining to the types of tasks, conditions and individual factors which may be more or less susceptible to circadian performance variation and alcohol x time of day interaction.
KeywordsCircadian rhythmicity--Effect of chemicals on; Alcohol--Physiological effect--Testing; Drunk driving
RightsAll Rights Reserved
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