Objectives: While it has been suggested that the novel wake promoting drug modafinil may have some utility with respect to drowsy driving in healthy adults, this has not been investigated until now. The present study was designed to assess the effects of modafinil on objective and self-assessed driving simulator performance during an overnight period of sleep loss.
Methods: Sixteen healthy participants (eight males and eight females) remained awake overnight on two separate occasions during which they ingested either a single 300 mg dose of modafinil or a placebo capsule at either 0230 or 0330 h. Two hours post-treatment, participants were evaluated using measures of driving simulator performance, self-assessed driving performance and subjective alertness.
Results: Modafinil treatment reduced lane deviation but had less effect on speed deviation, off-road incidents and reaction time to a concurrent task. Modafinil also improved subjective appraisals of driving performance, although its use may have resulted in overconfidence in driving ability during short trips.
Conclusions: Modafinil offers some benefits with respect to objective driving performance under conditions of sleep loss. However it may induce overconfidence, suggesting that its use as a countermeasure to drowsiness when driving requires further examination.