Driving is a complex, goal-directed task. ASD can be related to impairments in executive functioning (EF), which may interfere with driving. This study aimed to investigate (1) if 16 young novice drivers with ASD exhibited a divergent performance on EF tests compared to 18 neurotypical peers, (2) if ASD participants exhibited a divergent driving performance compared to their neurotypical peers, and (3) if differences in driving performance would be related by the performance on the EF tasks. All participants completed a driving simulator scenario and computer-task battery. Driving error classification allowed the selection of several driving measures (e.g., collisions, speeding). Three EF tasks measuring working memory
(WM), attention, and response inhibition
were included. Results indicated lower WM and attention performance of the ASD participants compared to the control group, whereas response inhibition was similar across groups. Furthermore, the current study demonstrated that people with ASD can be considered as capable drivers once they have learned how to drive, that it is important to take different types of hazards into account, and that EF performance is related to driving performance. This relation may be different for drivers with and without ASD. Moreover, the relation may depend on the specific EFs and driving parameters under investigation. Future research could focus on the very early phases of driving education, and include additional driving and EF measures.
Auteurs: Veerle Ross, Ellen M.M. Jongen, Kris Brijs, Giovanni Vanroelen, Caroline Beelen, Irene Maltagliati, Martijn van Beers, Robert A.C. Ruiter, Tom Brijs, Wael Alhajyaseen, Abdrabo Soliman, Geert Wets, Marleen Vanvuchelen