Cardiorespiratory fitness and sex assigned at birth contribute to brake reaction time in older adults

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Introduction: Age-related increases in reaction time (RT) are pervasive. Driver RT is a crucial component of roadway safety. Superior cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) is associated with faster RTs on a variety of behavioral tasks. Driver RT, as with any RT measure, is comprised of constituent components that contribute to a total response time (TT). Simple RT (sRT) is comprised of the requisite sensory and central processing of TT. Movement time (MT) is comprised of the requisite movement of a particular behavioral response (e.g., moving your foot from the accelerator to the brake pedal). This study aimed to determine the strongest predictor of constituent components of driver RT on a brake onset test. Methods: Cross-sectional analysis. Predictor variables included CRF, age and sex. Participants were 50 community-dwelling older adults between the ages of 60 and 77 (mean age = 66.5 years, SD = 4.1). Maximal graded exercise tests were used to assess CRF. A driving simulator was used to assess constituent components of driving-related RT. Results: Findings indicated that CRF was the largest contributor to sRT variance (beta = −0.35, p = 0.03). Sex was the largest contributor to MT (beta = −0.44, p = 0.003) and TT (beta = −0.28, 0.05) variance. CRF also demonstrated a marginal contribution to TT variance (beta = −0.25, p = 0.08). Age did not significantly contribute to sRT, MT or TT. Conclusions: Age-related increases in RT can jeopardize roadway safety. Findings from this study demonstrate that a modifiable lifestyle variable may have the ability to reduce roadway risk by improving constituent components of driver RT.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100858
JournalJournal of Transport and Health
StatePublished - Jun 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the National Institutes of Health ( CTSA UL1TR000117 , R01 AG055449 ), the University of Kentucky's Sanders-Brown Center on Aging , and the University of Kentucky's Clinical Services Core (CSC) . Sponsor's Role: The sponsor had no role in the design, methods, subject recruitment, data collections, analysis and preparation of the paper. The content is solely the responsibility of the author and does not necessarily represent the official views of these granting agencies. The corresponding author is responsible for all aspects of the manuscript. There is no conflict of interest to report. The corresponding author would like to thank Dr. Brian T. Gold, Jody L. Clasey, and Alison L. Bailey for their assistance with data collection.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd


  • Aging
  • Driving
  • Fitness
  • Mobility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Transportation
  • Pollution
  • Safety Research
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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