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  • Writer's pictureCory Morrison

Driving Obstacles for People With Autism

Updated: Sep 15, 2023

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I still have not driven any vehicle or gotten a license yet despite turning 28 in July. Why? Many autism symptoms get in the way.

According to Autism Society, one needs to consider flexibility to change, focusing, motor coordination, multi-tasking, pre-planning, prioritizing, and social judgment as factors. Many of these things are often difficult for me to handle.

What obstacles stand out for me?



My anxiety has a lot to do with it. I get so nervous and overthink things very easily, particularly when I try new things.

My anxiety with driving occurs because I'm terrified of car accidents.

I know that the only way to get over my fear is to try driving, but another thing that has been anxiety-provoking is that I risk lives if I make mistakes.


I find it hard to focus on several things at once. This is something that can be critical when driving.

I would have to make sure that I steer correctly, watch for others, and pay attention to signals.

I can perform tasks very well if I do not have to focus on so many things at once, but when it comes to multi-tasking, I tend not to do as well.

I may not notice signals from other drivers right away. I could also accidentally steer incorrectly and hit something.

Hitting something due to speeding is another fear I have. Too many people have lost their lives early due to car accidents.

I realize how precious life is. I do want me and others to live a long time because I know those good things can happen in the future.

Driving Obstacles
I carefully focus during Bronte Creek's Cycle of Autism in September 2002 (Photo credit: John Morrison).

Processing Information

Due to my learning and cognitive issues, it can take a while to process information that the driving instructor teaches me.

I get upset whenever somebody tries to teach me something and then get impatient with me because I slowly process information. This has happened way too many times for me to count. It was one of the most frustrating things for me to deal with at school.

This problem was especially true late in elementary and high school when people tend to be at their most judgmental. Of course, in a situation like driving, it is natural for an instructor to get impatient if somebody makes a mistake for safety reasons.

Processing a lot of sensory information at once is a simple task for a lot of people, but for people with autism, it tends to be more difficult to the point of overwhelming.

For example, most people would not find talking to somebody on the phone inside a crowded mall overwhelming. I, on the other hand, find it stressful.

Inclement Weather

The next two obstacles are unrelated to autism but relate to me regardless.

Many people know I dislike cold and stormy weather. Combine that with driving and it is difficult to commute to places. Snow and fog especially make things difficult. This can especially be hard if one lives in a city or even a town, though not as much in a rural area.

I recorded the video below on Feb. 12, 2019, during a significant snowstorm.

Lazy Eye

I wear glasses not only because I have difficulty seeing but because my right eye is lazy compared to my left eye. In my early elementary years, the vision on my right eye was so bad that I had to wear an eyepatch on it occasionally. I had several appointments at the Eye Clinic at Credit Valley Hospital then for my lazy eye in those years.

What does this have to do with driving? Having a lazy eye may affect my ability to drive.

Will I Ever Drive?

If I drive, I will start by driving slowly in empty parking lots. It would likely take a long time from when I start learning to drive to when I finally get a license.

The G1 should be a piece of cake if I study and have good general knowledge of driving safety rules.

The other steps, however, could take several tries for me to be successful. It may not be a big deal to me if I fail my first driving test because lots of people fail their first driving test.

Also, if I ever drive, I would never encourage or force people to come in with me for the first several months or so of trying because many people feel uncomfortable as a passenger with beginner drivers.

When I walk outside even, I often feel nervous when I cross the road and a teenager waits for his/her turn to drive.

Driving would definitely be a big step in life for me, given how bad my anxiety has been over the years of doing and learning things that I have never learned to do before.

Hopefully, I will eventually drive. Could it take until I am 30? 35? 40? It does not matter to me when right now, but I hope it will happen one day.

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