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The visual search patterns of drivers with Autism Spectrum Disorders in complex driving scenarios
School of Occupational Therapy and Social Work, Faculty of Health Sciences, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.
School of Occupational Therapy and Social Work, Faculty of Health Sciences, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.
Department of Neurobiology, Care science and Society, Division of Occupational Therapy, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
Jönköping University, School of Health and Welfare, HHJ. CHILD. School of Occupational Therapy and Social Work, Faculty of Health Sciences, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0756-6862
2019 (English)In: Journal of Transport and Health, ISSN 2214-1405, E-ISSN 2214-1405, Vol. 14, article id 100597Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: Driving is a highly demanding task which presents itself with various unpredictable and potentially hazardous situations. The failure to visually scan the driving environment and strategically search for potential road hazards, can be considered as unsafe driving practices. Little is known about how licensed drivers with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) visually scan the roads while driving. The present study assessed the visual scanning and fixation patterns of drivers with and without ASD during a simulated drive.

Methods: Twenty-eight licensed drivers between the age of 18–40 years old, including 14 drivers with ASD (male = 13) driving at least 2 h per week participated in a simulated drive with 14 matched controls. Psychometric profiles and visual scanning patterns on various objects of interest were analysed between groups.

Results: Drivers with ASD were found to fixate and spend significantly more time focusing on the central visual field and less time scanning where hazards potentially emerge. They also tended to allocate less visual attention on social stimuli (i.e., involving a person), and failed to stop in time at the red lights. Psychometric profiles confirmed poorer visual scanning and motor processing speed but less risk-taking behaviour in drivers with ASD.

Conclusion: Licensed drivers with ASD were found to allocate visual attention differently compared to licensed drivers without ASD. Poor scanning patterns with an over-focus on the road ahead and less scanning of the road side and periphery may possibly result in unsafe driving. However, risk-taking behaviour was not prevalent in these drivers. Effective visual scanning strategies could be incorporated in the driver training of individuals with ASD. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2019. Vol. 14, article id 100597
Keywords [en]
Asperger syndrome, Autism spectrum disorder, Eye-movements, Scanning, STISIM driving simulator, Transportation
National Category
Occupational Therapy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-47079DOI: 10.1016/j.jth.2019.100597ISI: 000487982100039Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85069565490Local ID: ;HHJCHILDISOAI: oai:DiVA.org:hj-47079DiVA, id: diva2:1381387
Available from: 2019-12-20 Created: 2019-12-20 Last updated: 2019-12-20Bibliographically approved

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