Driving performance and workload assessment of drivers with tetraplegia: an adaptation evaluation framework.

The purpose of this study was to establish a baseline for further research on adaptation evaluation for drivers with disabilities. Driving performance and workload for 26 drivers with spinal cord injuries (tetraplegia) was studied and compared to a matched group of able-bodied drivers in a driving simulator. Drivers with tetraplegia used two types of hand-operated controls for accelerating and braking. Able- bodied drivers drove with standard pedals. The drivers with tetraplegia performed the driving task equally as well as the control group but had a slightly longer reaction time (10%). Workload assessment revealed that drivers with tetraplegia experienced a significantly greater time pressure and spent more effort than did the able-bodied drivers. They were also more tired from braking and accelerating. The drivers with tetraplegia using separate levers had greater standard deviation in lateral lane position (7 cm), while those using a combined lever were more tired from braking and accelerating. Observed differences could be interpreted as indicators of insufficient adaptation.

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