The relation between driving errors and executive functioning in intellectually able young novice drivers with autism

Veerle Ross*, E.M.M. Jongen, Kris Brijs, Giovanni Vanroelen, Caroline Beelen, I. Maltagliati, Martijn van Beers, Rob Ruiter, Tom Brijs, W. Alhajyaseen, A. Soliman, Geert Wets, Marleen Vanvuchelen

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    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.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)38-54
    Number of pages17
    JournalTransportation Research Part F-Traffic Psychology and Behaviour
    Publication statusPublished - May 2019


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