Optimizing the Value of Driving Simulators in Rehabilitation Practice by Increasing Behavioral Validity


Driving simulators are increasingly promoted as a means of increasing the objectivity, reliability and validity of driving assessments and the effectiveness of driver training. Behavioral validity is acknowledged as necessary for the successful application of driving simulation in rehabilitation practice. This session proposes that behavioral validity is the observable manifestation of psychological validity, also known as presence. Therefore, increasing presence will increase behavioral validity and the effectiveness of driving simulator-based applications. Key terms and concepts, i.e. behavioral validity, field of view, immersion, task fidelity, and presence, will be explained in relation to selected items from the CDRS in-vehicle assessment checklist. Methods for increasing and measuring presence during a driving simulator session will be discussed.


Learning Objectives:

- Describe a process model explaining how behavioral validity is increased by psychological fidelity, also called presence

- Define and understand the context for presence in health care practice

- Understand the factors that increase presence

- Describe three keys to conducting a simulation session to increase presence

- Understand methods for measuring presence

Pierro Hirsch


Dr. Pierro Hirsch has over four decades of experience in driver training and assessment for drivers of all ages and experience levels. In 2005, he earned a PhD in Public Health from the University of Montreal. In 2006, he became Director of Road Safety Research at Virage Simulation, a Montreal-based manufacturer of car and truck simulators and developer of driver training and evaluation programs. He has authored several peer-reviewed articles and regularly presents his research at conferences. Dr. Hirsch is a member of the Committee on Operator Education and Regulation and the Committee on Simulation and Measurement of Vehicle and Operator Performance at the Transportation Research Board, Washington D.C.. At Virage Simulation, Pierro develops and validates driving simulator-based training and evaluation scenarios aimed at reducing crash risk for novice car and truck drivers, commercial and emergency drivers, clinical populations and aging drivers. In 2017, he and his team of university collaborators won the Deborah Freund Paper Award from the Transportation Research Board, National Academy of Sciences, for the article Transfer of Training in Basic Control Skills from a Truck Simulator to a Real Truck.

Laura Miear


Laura Miear is an occupational therapist with 14 years of experience in a wide range of clinical settings.  She has been a full-time instructor in the Masters of Occupational Therapy program at Radford University for the past 8 years.  In addition to teaching, Laura coordinates and conducts the MOTs driving program which consists of off-road, clinical evaluations and use of driving simulation for screening and training purposes.  She also trains and supervises MOT students in the use of driving simulation for driver training of young adults with developmental disabilities.

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