Original Investigation

Psychopharmacology

, Volume 231, Issue 3, pp 557-566

First online:

Interactions between age and moderate alcohol effects on simulated driving performance

  • Alfredo L. SklarAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, University of Florida Email author 
  • , Jeff BoissoneaultAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, University of Florida
  • , Mark T. FillmoreAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Kentucky
  • , Sara Jo NixonAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, University of Florida

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Abstract

Rationale

There is a substantial body of literature documenting the deleterious effects of both alcohol consumption and age on driving performance. There is, however, limited work examining the interaction of age and acute alcohol consumption.

Objectives

The current study was conducted to determine if moderate alcohol doses differentially affect the driving performance of older and younger adults.

Methods

Healthy older (55–70) and younger (25–35) adults were tested during a baseline session and again following consumption of one of three beverages [0.0 % (placebo), 0.04 % or 0.065 % target breath alcohol concentration]. Measures of driving precision and average speed were recorded.

Results

Older adults performed more poorly on precision driving measures and drove more slowly than younger adults at baseline. After controlling for baseline performance, interactions between alcohol and age were observed following beverage consumption on two measures of driving precision with older adults exhibiting greater impairment as a result of alcohol consumption.

Conclusions

These data provide evidence that older adults may be more susceptible to the effects of alcohol on certain measures of driving performance. An investigation of mechanisms accounting for alcohol’s effects on driving in older and younger adults is required. Further evaluation using more complex driving environments is needed to assess the real-world implication of this interaction.

Keywords

Moderate alcohol consumption Aging Simulated driving