return to TMARC

Publication Abstract Display
Type: Poster
Title: Methamphetamine dependence and risky driving behaviors.
Authors: Marcotte TD, Meyer R, Hendrix T, Rosenthal T, Kay G, Heaton RK, Woods SP, Ellis R, Grant I, the TMARC Group
Date: 02-06-2013
Abstract:Objective: Methamphetamine (METH) use is associated with poor decision-making and risky behaviors, which may reflect frontal systems dysfunction. There is limited data regarding driving performance among METH users. The goal of this study was to examine self-reported and performance-based driving behaviors among individuals with a history of METH dependence. Participants and Methods: 24 current drivers with a history of METH dependence, and 30 controls (CONT) were assessed using a PC-based driving simulation and measures of risky decision-making (Iowa Gambling Task [IGT]) and frontal systems dysfunction (Frontal Systems Behavior Scale [FrSBe]). The simulation required participants to drive to a location as quickly as possible. They received additional compensation for reaching the location on time; payment was reduced based upon crashes, tickets, and late arrival to the destination. Results: METH and CONT groups had similar recent driving mileage. The METH group self-reported more real-world risky driving (racing, passing in no-passing lanes) and had more lifetime crashes/tickets. On the simulation, the METH group had more speeding tickets (2.3 vs. 1.3, p = .008) and unsafe closing speeds on lead cars (p = .006). The METH group had a higher ratio of risk/time penalties than the CONT group (p = .02). IGT (ß = .25; p = .049) and FrSBe scores (B = -.35; p = .007) independently predicted dangerous closing speeds (R2 = .17, p = .003), while the FrSBe alone predicted the ratio of risk/time penalties (r = .33, p = .015) and speeding tickets (r = .33; p = .014). Conclusion: METH dependence is associated with increased risky driving, based upon both real world driving and performance-based measures. Risk taking was predicted by different aspects of frontal systems behaviors, possibly related to the decision-making time frame (milliseconds [closing speed] vs. seconds [risk vs. arrival time prioritization]). It remains to be determined whether such propensities precede METH use, or are exacerbated by METH-related brain changes.

return to publications listing