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The effect of 5 mg of Diazepam on driving-related skills : equating impairment to a blood-alcohol concentration level, and investigating subjective perception of impairment

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Derrick, ML (2013) The effect of 5 mg of Diazepam on driving-related skills : equating impairment to a blood-alcohol concentration level, and investigating subjective perception of impairment. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

A mixed-measures research design was employed to investigate the effects of a single acute 5mg
dose of diazepam on psychomotor performance and subjective experience. Following a doubleblind
protocol, 34 benzodiazepine-naive participants were administered 5mg of diazepam or
placebo. Tasks measuring the driving-related skills of psychomotor processing speed, sensory motor
reaction time, vigilance, divided attention and tracking, as well as subjective alertness and subjective
competence, were completed for 150 minutes post-ingestion. Deleterious effects of diazepam
tended to peak at 60 minutes post-ingestion, with the largest effects being of a moderate
magnitude. Psychomotor processing speed and vigilance were more deleteriously affected than
sensory motor reaction time and divided attention. Dissociations between the alertness and
competence ratings given before and after test battery completion suggest that self-monitoring
accuracy may not be fully intact under the influence of the 5mg dose. A method for equating
impairment to a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) equivalency was trialled. This method involved
the application of a regression equation to performance decrement measurements from the
tracking task. The BAC equivalency of impairment found in the current study utilising this method
was .041%, however it is recognised that this is likely to be an underestimation for older diazepam
users and for people taking regular, repeated 5mg doses for the first several weeks. Consequently,
many diazepam users may be impaired by diazepam to an extent considered risky for driving (more
than .05% BAC). It is reasonable to suggest that Medical Practitioners should educate patients when
prescribing diazepam, so that patients are aware of the steps they can take to reduce their crash risk
when under the influence of diazepam.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Diazepam, Benzodiazepine, driving, psychomotor skills, blood-alcohol equivalency, sedation, subjective, sedation
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2013 the Author

Date Deposited: 02 Oct 2013 00:24
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2017 01:06
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