Traffic Psychology – Fitness to Drive Test Set


It is a well known fact that more than 90% of road accidents are caused by human error. The main cause of traffic accidents are cognitive errors (e.g. inattention, lack of situational awareness, and ineffective decision making) due to maladaptive behaviour in interaction with roadways or other vehicles. Traffic  psychology  is  concerned  with  analysing,  understanding  and  influencing  how  people behave on the roads. Traffic psychological tests are therefore used today in many different ways in two key areas of application: on the one hand they serve to highlight performance deficits and inappropriate attitudes in potentially dangerous drivers, while on the other they are also used to select, on the  basis  of  suitability, drivers  who  fall  into  the  category  of  “drivers  with  increased responsibility”. 

Drivers’ performance deficits and inappropriate attitudes are usually assessed: 

  • If a driver has been convicted of a driving offence (e.g. alcohol or substance misuse, repeated speeding)
  • If a  driver’s  cognitive  or  physical  ability  is  in  doubt  (e.g.  following  a  neurological illness,  as  a  result  of  an age-related  deterioration  in  performance  or  if  mental immaturity is suspected)
  • If a driver’s mental fitness is in doubt (e.g. in the event of psychiatric problems or if the driving test has been failed particularly frequently)

Certain groups are classed as drivers with increased responsibility. They include: 

  • Taxi Drivers
  • Bus Drivers
  • Drivers of vehicles transporting dangerous goods and heavy loads
  • Driving Instructors.







The Fitness to Drive test set comprises of the following dimensions and abilities:


Ability Definition

Duration in minutes

Logical reasoning

Capacity to learn or plan a journey, obtain information and make informed and effective decisions when driving

approx. 24


Capacity to maintain focus and attend to traffic signals and road signs, while managing distractions

approx. 10

Stress tolerance – Performance based

Capacity to stay composed under duress, and perform appropriate or corrective physical manoeuvres, such as regaining a control of the vehicle

approx. 6

Reaction time

Capacity to process information and react swiftly such as during emergency situations (e.g. swerving or braking to avoid a collision or an accident)

approx. 6

Situational Awareness

Capacity to gain a visual overview of the environment and be aware of other immediate traffic and road signs to forecast speed and braking distances

approx. 14

Peripheral perception

Capacity to scan broadly and anticipate traffic movement occurring in the peripheries which may inform safe lane changes

approx. 23

Total length of the test set

approx. 83