DOI

10.17077/drivingassessment.1717

Location

Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

Date

27-6-2019

Session

Session 7 – Hybrid Presentations

Abstract

Following a traffic accident, up to 30% of the involved persons suffer from stress related symptoms often coming along with enduring fear of driving. Virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET) offers major advantages for treating anxiety disorders, but with respect to fear of driving it has been hardly investigated so far. In the present study a driving simulator exposure treatment for patients with fear of driving after a traffic accident was developed and evaluated. The therapy followed a standardized manual of 13 sessions including anamnesis, medical examination, two preparative psychotherapy sessions, five virtual reality exposure (VRE) sessions, a final behavioral avoidance test in real traffic with a driving instructor, a closing session, plus follow-up phone calls after six and twelve weeks. The exposure scenarios were individually tailored to the patients’ anxiety hierarchy. 14 patients were treated. Results indicate excellent treatment success. In the final behavioral avoidance test, all patients mastered driving tasks they had avoided before, 71% showed an adequate driving behavior as assessed by the driving instructor, 93% could maintain their treatment success until the second follow-up phone call. We conclude that VRET in a driving simulator is a highly promising tool to treat fear of driving. Major advantages are that traffic scenarios are highly controllable, safe and can be designed and presented to perfectly fit the individuals' anxieties.

Rights

Copyright © 2019 the author(s)

DC Citation

Proceedings of the Tenth International Driving Symposium on Human Factors in Driver Assessment, Training and Vehicle Design, 24-27 June 2019, Santa Fe, New Mexico. Iowa City, IA: Public Policy Center, of Iowa, 2019: 349-355.

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Jun 27th, 12:00 AM

Driving Simulation as Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy to Rehabilitate Patients with Driving Fear After Traffic Accidents

Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

Following a traffic accident, up to 30% of the involved persons suffer from stress related symptoms often coming along with enduring fear of driving. Virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET) offers major advantages for treating anxiety disorders, but with respect to fear of driving it has been hardly investigated so far. In the present study a driving simulator exposure treatment for patients with fear of driving after a traffic accident was developed and evaluated. The therapy followed a standardized manual of 13 sessions including anamnesis, medical examination, two preparative psychotherapy sessions, five virtual reality exposure (VRE) sessions, a final behavioral avoidance test in real traffic with a driving instructor, a closing session, plus follow-up phone calls after six and twelve weeks. The exposure scenarios were individually tailored to the patients’ anxiety hierarchy. 14 patients were treated. Results indicate excellent treatment success. In the final behavioral avoidance test, all patients mastered driving tasks they had avoided before, 71% showed an adequate driving behavior as assessed by the driving instructor, 93% could maintain their treatment success until the second follow-up phone call. We conclude that VRET in a driving simulator is a highly promising tool to treat fear of driving. Major advantages are that traffic scenarios are highly controllable, safe and can be designed and presented to perfectly fit the individuals' anxieties.