The driving simulator can be used successfully in a number of clinical applications. The following clinical applications can be distinguished:
Treatment of fear of driving
A simulator is very efficient to treat fear of driving, because if lets people drive in a realistic driving environment for a prolonged time without any real risk. This module contains a highway and a town scenario that can be driven for an extended period of time. Every 5 minutes the level of tension (anxiety) is measured and although the client will experience fear at the beginning of the drive, this will reduce after some time. This technique, also known as exposure in vivo, has been proved successful in the treatment of phobias.
Evaluation of fitness to drive
The methods to assess fitness to drive after a CVA, at older age, sleep apnea or with various neurological conditions, often lack reliability and validity. To effectively assess fitness to drive, more is needed than the traditional eye tests and tests of urine samples. While simulators are often less suitable for the assessment of driving behavior in older people, because of the increased risk of simulator or cyber sickness in this population, when a number of precautions are being taken in the design of the tests, the risk of simulator sickness can be reduced substantially. Simulator tests can be a valuable addition to the set of diagnostic instruments to evaluate fitness to drive.
Driver rehabilitation and occupational therapy
The driver training program contains a lot of material that can be used to evaluate driver behavior and to train people driving skills in occupational therapy. Especially, turning at intersections, reacting to unexpected events and negotiating four-way intersections and roundabouts can be trained in this group.