Newly Licensed Drivers with Autism Have Better Driving Records Than Neurotypical Peers

However, Additional Road Training May Benefit Drivers with ASD 

A new study has found that young drivers with autism have lower rates of moving violations, license suspensions and crash rates compared to their neurotypical peers. This research was produced by a collaboration between the Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP) and the Center for Autism Research (CAR) at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). The study examined New Jersey birth records from 1987 through 2000. Patients in the CHOP Care Network were identified by combing through these birth records. Their electronic health records were then connected to driver licensing and crash databases within New Jersey. In total, 486 drivers with autism were identified and then compared to 70,990 drivers without autism. The first four years of driving for both cohorts were examined. Even though prior research, using driving simulators, predicted that drivers with autism were at higher risk for car crashes, this real world research did not come to that conclusion. The study’s authors speculate that newly-licensed drivers on the spectrum may have exceeded expectations by establishing driving habits that balance their desire for independent mobility and risk, resulting in a crash risk similar to other young drivers. However, the study discovered that young drivers with autism were substantially more likely to collide with another car while making left- or U-turns. They were also more likely to crash for not yielding to another vehicle or pedestrian. Due to these vulnerabilities, the research team suggests that new drivers on the spectrum receive more on-road training than their non-affected peers. It is important to point out that new drivers with autism in this study did not have an additional diagnosis of intellectual disability. 

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