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Impairment from alcohol, drowsiness/fatigue, drugs (pharmaceutical and illicit), vision and hearing loss remain the leading cause of traffic-related fatalities and injuries.


  • Develop standardized protocols for the study of impairment that can be validly baselined against alcohol impairment
  • Develop methods for detecting the impaired performance in real-time so that it can risk can be mitigated

Research in the Area

In 2010, NADS completed a groundbreaking study for NHTSA that was sensitive to alcohol at levels as low as 0.05%BAC in low demand driving environments and that demonstrated the ability to detect legal impairment with as little as eight minutes of driving data. This same protocol was used to demonstrate the impairing effects of a benzodiazepine at various levels. We are currently studying how this protocol and the alcohol impairment detection algorithms work with drowsy drivers. In the coming months, this effort will expand to testing other pharmaceutical agents and illicit drugs, including the development of a standardized protocol for assessing carryover effect.

Long Term Aim

Reduce the number of fatalities attributable to driver impairment through a better understanding of the effects and through development of appropriate mitigations.


Impairment program manager:
Omar Ahmad (staff profile)
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