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The Impact of Depression on Driver Performance

Abstract

This study reviews the existing literature concerning the association between depression and driver safety. Despite its increasing prevalence and its disabling impact on the world’s population, there is surprisingly little research examining the impact of depressive disorders on driver performance. The review begins by examining the early studies of drivers deemed “mentally ill” and the subsequent epidemiological literature including case–control and prospective cohort studies of depressed drivers. The review also examines the more recent experimental investigations of depression and driver performance that have relied on naturalistic measurements and advanced driving simulation. The review concludes with a discussion of relevant issues (e.g., the impact of antidepressants on driver performance, suicide by driving), public policy implications of the research, and future research directions.

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Acknowledgments

This research was supported by a grant from AUTO21, a member of the Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) program that is administered and funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), in partnership with Industry Canada. Dr. Wickens was supported by Postdoctoral Fellowships from the SSHRC and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

Conflict of Interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Christine M. Wickens.

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Wickens, C.M., Smart, R.G. & Mann, R.E. The Impact of Depression on Driver Performance. Int J Ment Health Addiction 12, 524–537 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11469-014-9487-0

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Keywords

  • Depression
  • Mental health
  • Driving
  • Collisions
  • Aggression