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Drinking and riding: is subjective workload related to performance?

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conference contribution
posted on 2016-10-18, 09:29 authored by Ashleigh FiltnessAshleigh Filtness, Christina M. Rudin-Brown
INTRODUCTION. Within the context of road safety it is important that workload (the portion of a driver’s resources expended to perform a task) remains at a manageable level, preventing overloading and consequently performance decrements. Motorcyclists are over represented in crash statistics where the vehicle operator has a positive, low blood alcohol concentration (BAC) (e.g., ≤0.05%). The NASA task load index (NASA-TLX) comprises sub-scales that purportedly assess different aspects of subjective workload. It was hypothesized that, compared to a zero BAC condition, low BACs would be associated with increases in workload ratings, and decrements in riding performance. METHOD. Forty participants (20 novice, 20 experienced) completed simulated motorcycle rides in urban and rural scenarios under low dose BAC conditions (0.00%, 0.02%, 0.05% BAC), while completing a safety relevant peripheral detection task (PDT). Six sub-scales of the NASA-TLX were completed after each ride. Riding performance was assessed using standard deviation of lateral position (SDLP). Hazard perception was assessed by response time to the PDT. RESULTS. Riding performance and hazard perception were affected by alcohol. There was a significant increase in SDLP in the urban scenario and of PDT reaction time in the rural scenario under 0.05% BAC compared to 0.00% BAC. Overall NASA-TLX score increased at 0.02% and 0.05% BAC in the urban environment only, with a trend for novices to rate workload higher than experienced riders. There was a significant main effect of sub-scale on workload ratings in both the urban and rural scenarios. DISCUSSION. 0.05% BAC was associated with decrements in riding performance in the urban environment, decrements in hazard perception in the rural environment, and increases in overall ratings of subjective workload in the urban environment. The workload sub-scales of the NASA-TLX appear to be measuring distinct aspects of motorcycle riding-related workload. Issues of workload and alcohol impaired riding performance are discussed.


This research was performed under contract for Queensland's Department of Transport and Main Roads.



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ustralasian Road Safety Policing and Education Conference


FILTNESS, A. and RUDIN-BROWN, C., 2012. Drinking and riding: is subjective workload related to performance? IN: Proceedings of 2012 23rd Australasian Road Safety Research, Policing and Education Conference (ARSRPE 2012), Wellington, New Zealand, 4-6 October 2012.


Australasian College of Road Safety


  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

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This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

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Wellington, New Zealand.

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