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AuthorDirix, Hélène
AuthorRoss, Veerle
AuthorBrijs, Kris
AuthorVermeiren, Ellen
AuthorTimmermans, Chantal
AuthorAlhajyaseen, Wael
AuthorBrijs, Tom
AuthorWets, Geert
AuthorSpooren, Annemie
Available date2022-10-23T10:36:45Z
Publication Date2021-04
Publication NameTransportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour
CitationDirix, H., Ross, V., Brijs, K., Vermeiren, E., Timmermans, C., Alhajyaseen, W., ... & Spooren, A. (2021). The appraisal of roadway environment and infrastructure by drivers with autism: A qualitative study. Transportation research part F: traffic psychology and behaviour, 78, 280-298.
AbstractPeople with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) might experience difficulties while driving, for instance, related to hazard perception. These difficulties may be related to cognitive issues (internal) such as attention-shifting, sequential performance, and multitasking. Possibly related to these issues, some people with ASD experience stress and anxiety while driving. Among other reasons, stress could relate to the roadway environment and infrastructure design, e.g., sensory overload due to lighting conditions. Yet, the relationship between roadway environment and infrastructure and driving experiences of people with ASD is somewhat overlooked in previous research. This study aimed to (1) explore how people with ASD experience roadway environment/infrastructure while driving (2) identify coping strategies to deal with interfering elements related to roadway environment/infrastructure. There were twelve participants (mean age: 34.8, of which 66.7% were female), semi-structured interviews to examine the appraisal of roadway environment and infrastructure. The interviews were analyzed based on a phenomenological hermeneutical approach. Each participant reported both positive (e.g., environment and infrastructure can be supporting, enhance predictability) and negative appraisals (e.g., stress, anxiety) to roadway environment/infrastructure. Various elements such as light, noise, and, being rushed caused additional pressure on (1) the driving performance (e.g., driving too slowly, not noticing important elements), (2) traffic analyzing skills (e.g., difficulties in overseeing new situations), (3) and the efficient application of traffic rules. The participants described different coping mechanisms to deal with the influence of interfering elements; for example, alternative transport means or adjusting behavior (e.g., switch off radio, early departure). This demonstrates that besides internal factors such as attention, external factors like roadway environment and infrastructure can also influence the driving experience of ASD drivers, potentially leading to driving-related stress and anxiety. Policymakers could consider the current findings when designing new guidelines and roadway environment and infrastructure design principles.
SponsorThe NPRP award [NPRP11S-1228-170143] from the Qatar National Research Fund (a member of Qatar Foundation)
PublisherElsevier Ltd
SubjectAutism spectrum disorder
Coping mechanisms
Hermeneutic phenomenology
Roadway environment
Roadway infrastructure
TitleThe appraisal of roadway environment and infrastructure by drivers with autism: A qualitative study
Volume Number78

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