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Walk and Turn Field Sobriety Test

The Walk and Turn Field Sobriety Test is one of the three tests of the Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) in the USA. The test involves walking nine steps, touching heel-to-toe, along a straight line. This balance part of the test is not part of the usual tests of fitness for athletes, but is similar to other walking balance test and may be a useful alternative.

These tests, which were developed in the 1970s, are performed during a traffic stop in order to determine if a driver is impaired. As well as the walk-and-turn test, the other tests that make up the SFST are the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) and the one-leg stand tests.

purpose: To assess balance and coordination through the ability to maintain balance while walking along a straight line. The test also assesses the attention of the driver.

equipment required: line drawn on the ground.

procedure: The subject is directed to take nine steps, touching heel-to-toe, along a straight line. After taking the steps, the subject must turn on one foot and return in the same manner in the opposite direction.

balance walk and turn testbalance walk and turn test

Scoring: The examiner looks for these eight indicators of impairment:

  1. If the subject cannot keep balance while listening to the instructions
  2. Begins before instructions are finished
  3. Stops while walking to regain balance
  4. Does not touch heel-to-toe
  5. Uses arms to balance
  6. Steps off the line
  7. Takes an incorrect number of steps
  8. Makes an improper turn

The Test in Action

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