What is a Driving Simulator?
A Driving Simulator is a program we use to objectively assess the driving performance and ‘driving risk’ of someone who is fatigued or are at risk of sleepiness. This could include shift workers or people who drive long distances. If can also help determine how well someone’s therapy is working if they have been diagnosed with sleep apnoea or other sleep disorders such as narcolepsy. Especially if they are still tired after commencing their therapy. It is also useful to determine driving risk if someone has been involved in a motor vehicle accident.
With a steering wheel in addition to an accelerator and brake pedals, you will feel like you’re actually driving.
What does the Driving Simulator measure?
It measures elements of driving performance to determine how fit you are to drive, and whether you might be suffering from an impaired driving performance:
- Steering Deviation – your ability to maintain lane position
- Speed Control – your ability to maintain speed with the in-target range
- Number of crashes
- Reaction time – your ability to brake in response to the appearance of ‘obstacles’ on the road
How the Driving Simulation Test can be conducted
This test can be conducted as either an in-patient or an out-patient at Sleep SA. It will take 3 hours in total, and it includes us wiring you up to record microsleeps whilst you drive. No fear, you will get a practice session to familiarise yourself with the simulator, and you will be able to get a short break before commencing your 90 minute driving simulation test.
After your test is completed, your report will be compiled and sent to your requesting Sleep Physician and referring GP.
How can I book this?
As with a ‘standard’ sleep referral, please ask your GP to refer you to one of our sleep specialists and have the GP request a driving simulator test with the reasons for this – eg sleepiness while driving, shift worker etc (see below).
Is this driving simulator test Medicare-subsidised?
Yes, it can be conducted as an outpatient service solely through Medicare. This will attract a gap payment of $95.00.
Should you use your private health insurance for hospital admissions, the procedure will be fully covered with no gap payment.
How do I know whether I should try to book a driving simulation test?
There are some indicators or signs you can look out for, to determine whether you should book a driving simulation test. A driving simulator test should be considered if you could be at increased risk of a motor vehicle accident.
For example, if you:
- Have experienced sleepiness while driving / fallen asleep at the lights
- Had a motor vehicle accident recently
- Have sub optimal / borderline therapy for sleep apnoea
- Have concerns over fatigue while driving due to shift work
Do I do this test before getting tested for Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA)?
First, you should be assessed for sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnoea and, if applicable, have commenced treatment.
This test should not be done prior to a sleep study to test for obstructive sleep apnoea, limb movement disorders, etc.
Is this test done as part of my driver's licence renewal requirement? Or is it usually recommended in conjunction with CPAP therapy to determine if my therapy is improving my driving performance?
It can be used as part of a range of tests to help determine fitness to drive and licence renewal but only if concerns exist about increased driving risk and only in conjunction with a sleep physician review and assessment.