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Study Suggests Autistic Drivers Crash Less Than Their Typical Peers

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A new study suggests young autistic drivers are less likely to crash and receive speeding violations compared to their typical peers. Researchers said these results can be used to better customize driver training for people on the spectrum.

Experts at two research organizations in Philadelphia compared driver crash and violation data for newly licensed autistic drivers and their typical peers. The study looked at drivers born between 1987 and 2000 and it excluded people on the spectrum with intellectual disabilities. In total, researchers analyzed driving information for nearly 500 autistic drivers and just over 70,000 typical drivers.

During their analysis, researchers found that overall, newly licensed autistic drivers were less likely to be in car crashes or have a moving violation or suspension on a monthly basis. Of all people involved in a car crash, speed was much less likely to be a factor among autistic drivers. However, autistic drivers were significantly more likely to be involved in crashes where the driver did not yield to vehicles or pedestrians or while making left and U-turns.

While the researchers found in general autistic drivers are just as safe on the road, they may still benefit from on-the-road training tailored to their specific needs.

“Our study suggests that autistic adolescents and young adults may benefit from more on-road training than their non-autistic peers,” Benjamin E. Yerys, Ph.D., study co-author and a psychologist at the Center for Autism Research (CAR), said in a statement. “They may need more tailored training in navigating turns and interacting safely with pedestrians and other vehicles.”

Previous research suggested autistic drivers were more likely to be in car crashes. The new study was published in Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry on Jan. 13.

Header image via Prostock-Studio/Getty Images

Originally published: January 29, 2021
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