The acute effects of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine and methamphetamine on driving: a simulator study


Stough, Con; Downey, Luke A.; King, Rebecca; Papafotiou, Katherine; Swann, Phillip; Ogden, Edward


Illicit drugs such as MDMA and methamphetamine are commonly abused drugs that have also been observed to be prevalent in drivers injured in road accidents. Their exact effect on driving and driving behavior has yet to be thoroughly investigated. Sixty-one abstinent recreational users of illicit drugs comprised the participant sample, with 33 females and 28 males, mean age 25.45 years. The three testing sessions involved oral consumption of 100 mg MDMA, 0.42 mg/kg methamphetamine, or a matching placebo. The drug administration was counter-balanced, double-blind, and medically supervised. At each session driving performance was assessed 3 h and 24 h post drug administration on a computerized driving simulator. At peak concentration overall impairment scores for driving (F2,118 = 9.042, p < 0.001) and signaling (F2,118 = 4.060, p = 0.020) were significantly different for the daytime simulations. Performance in the MDMA condition was worse than both the methamphetamine (p = 0.023) and placebo (p < 0.001) conditions and the methamphetamine condition was also observed to be worse in comparison to the placebo (p = 0.055). For signaling adherence, poorer signaling adherence occurred in both the methamphetamine (p = 0.006) and MDMA (p = 0.017) conditions in comparison to placebo in the daytime simulations. The findings of this study have for the first time illustrated how both MDMA and methamphetamine effect driving performance, and provide support for legislation regarding testing for the presence of illicit drugs in impaired or injured drivers as deterrents for driving under the influence of illicit drugs.

Publication year


Publication type

Journal article


Accident Analysis and Prevention, Vol. 45 (Mar 2012), pp. 493-497






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