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Jay27
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10 Feb 2012, 12:15 am

Hey,
Im 17 and working towards getting my driver's license. I live in a very overpopulated area close to washington dc, i know that driving can become a painfully stressful task even for people who aren't on the spectrum.

So, are there any tips you can give me? Driving or non-driving aspies, just anything you can think of.



Alexender
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10 Feb 2012, 12:17 am

This will sound kinda dumb but I was never told this. If you are blinded by the sun, stop, don't keep driving. I got in a major car accident because I didn't think of that. Would have if someone had told me.



btbnnyr
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10 Feb 2012, 12:27 am

I always play music when I am driving. The rhythm helps me focus on driving instead of spacing out.

I also sing along with the songs. That is my way of generating output to regulate the excessive sensory input.

Spacing out and sensory overload are two problems of driving for autistic people.

As for parking, I find that it is easiest to make it into the parking space by turning the wheel in little increments as I slowly go into the space. My car has wheel alignment issues, and everytime I park, it front wheels go "duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh", and this actually helps me turn the car to park straight in the space instead of over the lines or occupying more than one space.



BigBadBrad
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10 Feb 2012, 12:31 am

When I was first learning I would get stressed out, scared and basically paranoid about the idea of making mistakes. I was mentally convinced that any mistakes would end up causing an accident. Something that was really important for me to hear was that the other drivers can see you too. Don't be too afraid of mistakes now and then, because they will see you and compensate for you being in the wrong place.



Rob-N4RPS
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10 Feb 2012, 12:33 am

Hello!

As far as driving in the DC area goes, AS or not, I wish you the best. Between my having grown up there (Bethesda, MD) and my having lived there on and off over the years myself, the DC area has always been a royal pain to drive in, and it isn't getting any better as time goes by. If you're in Maryland, watch out for cameras at stop lights.

I would suggest trying not to drive at the peak times of the day (5-9 AM; 3-7 PM), if you can possibly avoid it. I have killed cars up there trying to do this - not in accidents, mind you; just having them simply burn up from all that stop-and-go driving.

Rest assured in the knowledge that if you can drive THERE, you can drive ANYWHERE!

Have A Great Day!

Rob


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Your neurotypical (non-autistic) score: 57 of 200
You are very likely an Aspie - An Aspie with a PURPOSE!


goodwitchy
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10 Feb 2012, 12:49 am

I drive (every day) on freeways and local roads, but I'm still a little afraid, especially when there's a lot of traffic or if I have to go somewhere I've never been before, and actually, I won't drive in the city at all - it's just too much for me....but that doesn't mean that people who have similar issues to mine can't do it. A big part is to overcome the fear of it, which comes with practice and experience.


Be careful not to let yourself get distracted, especially by a mobile phone if you have one (distractions can be a big problem for someone on the spectrum).

Don't reach for music CDs while you're driving (have your chosen tunes all ready in the player before you start driving).

Keep a pair of your sunglasses in the car for glare.

Remember to breathe. (I tend to hold my breath sometimes when I'm nervous and I don't even realize it)

Keep a decent map of the area in the back seat in case you get lost. (I get lost a lot).


I learned with private driving lessons - that's the best suggestion I have. If you have a good, patient teacher and you really want to learn it, then you have a great start.


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Tadzio
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10 Feb 2012, 1:20 am

After about 16 years of driving with no traffic citations, I stopped driving almost 25 years ago. State Rehab demanded that I continue to seek jobs requiring driving, but when simple partial seizures more often progressed to complex partial seizures sometimes like short-term melt-downs, I regarded driving as too dangerous.

In public, I now now try to maintain continuous recordings & GPS tracking for such events, as the public & police are often hostile in their responses. A recently released video of a guy on the roads of Henderson, Nevada in Diabetic Shock, illustrates what some responses can be:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xv6Mzcs8Vuw
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xv6Mzcs8Vuw[/youtube]

Tadzio



1000Knives
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10 Feb 2012, 1:26 am

For the sun thing, wear sunglasses, at least keep a pair in the car all the time. As bad as this sounds, if you suck at driving and wanna get better reaction times and just general mental fastness, if you know it's going to be a stressful trip, make sure you have some coffee before driving. That's what I do. Especially like, driving to the city or on the highway during a busy time.

The biggest thing for me, try to have no passengers in the car if you can help it, passengers up my sensory overload or whatever up to a gazillion, especially like all the seats filled kinda thing. Yeah, you'll probably find driving like exponentially easier if you're alone. One of the worst things for me driving, is if I have to drive a friend somewhere, and I'll have to follow their directions, and they'll like, want me to make a u turn in the middle of an intersection and stuff like that, it's just too much. If you're looking forward to driving with your friends or whatever, maybe don't, at least for my case, not much to look forward to.

Make sure your lights all work, and fluids are checked, all maintenance done. Eliminate that variable from your anxieties. Also, for the light thing, you want all your lights working, license plates in the right location, etc, so you can eliminate some anxiety of potentially getting pulled over by the police.

Make sure you get a lot of wheel practice in general, before the test. Not really much substitute for time behind the wheel.

Don't drive distracted. When I first started driving, I couldn't even like, eat a candy bar while driving. Meanwhile I had friends who could like, eat with a knife and fork while driving. Said friends were dumb drivers, but still. I've gotten a bit better, like now I can even occasionally change songs on my mp3 player while driving, but I can't really handle talking on the phone/answering the phone. Occasionally I'll pick up the phone if I feel I need to, and just tell them to call back. Ideally, it'd be best never to drive distracted ever, but real life sometimes warrants you pick up the phone, etc. It's unfortunate, but things work out that way, and our culture more or less encourages distracted driving. So, ideally try not to do it, but if you do it, be as cautious and safe as possible about it. Again, ideally don't do it.

As far as traffic, one thing I do, as a strategy is, my routes are always planned through side streets that I don't have to deal with traffic. Like my friend pointed out my route takes longer, let's say it takes 7-8 minutes to get to where we're going using my route. My route however has almost no traffic at any time ever, whereas his route takes 4-5 minutes usually, but always has traffic, which is a time variable first off, but I just don't like negotiating with other cars. So in my route estimations, I always factor in "how many cars will there be?" Not even "traffic" per se, but will the route require me being around other cars? Is it just in general a busy street? But I learned to just spend an extra 5-6 minutes of driving getting places sometimes, just because I'll be happier at the end, from dealing with less cars and stress.

As far as the city, well, get a GPS. Really, get a GPS in general. They're lifesavers. But otherwise, the city is just "trial by fire" you're gonna do it, you're gonna get pissed at everything ever, but it'll just be something you gotta do.

Last thing, another problem I have is literalness of traffic rules. It'll say 30mph, person in front of me is going like 50, I'm going 35, I'm getting tailgated? What do you do? It's a crappy situation, as if a cop so chose to, he could arrest me, but you need to figure out what to do. You gotta figure out the speed limit trends in your state, how they work and what the acceptable amounts over are. For acceptable amounts over, it's not just like "5mph over" it's different amounts per each road, really. So you must figure out how that works in your area.

Good luck.



Jay27
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10 Feb 2012, 11:17 pm

btbnnyr wrote:
I always play music when I am driving. The rhythm helps me focus on driving instead of spacing out.

I also sing along with the songs. That is my way of generating output to regulate the excessive sensory input.

Spacing out and sensory overload are two problems of driving for autistic people.

As for parking, I find that it is easiest to make it into the parking space by turning the wheel in little increments as I slowly go into the space. My car has wheel alignment issues, and everytime I park, it front wheels go "duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh", and this actually helps me turn the car to park straight in the space instead of over the lines or occupying more than one space.


I don't think music is a good idea for me, i would end up stimming to it and focusing completely on the production.
Singing along to the music is a very good idea though, or finding other ways to generate output.

The thing I'm most concerned about is not reading a driver's expression or non-verbal communications, and making a life-thretening blunder.



LogiC
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11 Feb 2012, 12:27 am

I find that having conversations while driving is really bad. I have to focus 100% on driving. If driving a route where you don't know the way, having a good navigator is very helpful. A bad navigator can make a drive extremely nerve wracking. Prepare mentally for a trip.

If you know a trip is going to be stressful then let yourself get stressed. Don't pretend it won't be stressful, if you hit a bad spot you will just break down. Take it for granted and let yourself get a little stressed, it's easier to control it then. If you're feeling really bad don't be afraid to just go up a quiet street and calm down for a bit, it helps.



goodwitchy
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11 Feb 2012, 1:00 am

Jay27 wrote:
The thing I'm most concerned about is not reading a driver's expression or non-verbal communications, and making a life-thretening blunder.


Jay, I hope you don't ever see some of the "hand signals" I've had drivers give to me. *lol*

Actually, most of the time you won't need to see another driver's facial expressions (at least I don't)
...but pedestrians expressions are important....and it's a good idea to look right at them so they know you see them and they see you.

Other expressions are usually just people waving someone on - meaning, hey, you go first. Whenever you're not sure, just take it slow. No one wants to get in an accident.

My dad says: "Drive as if everyone else on the road is crazy, so you be the careful one". Always try to look far in front of you so you can see any potential problems, like if something is on the road that shouldn't be there or if traffic is slowing down abruptly ahead.



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11 Feb 2012, 2:08 am

Here are some things that helped for me. Took me years of trying to drive to figure much of this out.

-I always make it clear to everyone in the car that loud noises can make me lose control of the car.
This was one of the reasons I couldn't drive for years: the people teaching me would always raise their voices, making it impossible for me to follow their directions or keep control of the car. Literally had to stop in the middle of the road several times. I fixed this by telling the people teaching me, that if they raised their voice I'd literally stop wherever the car was and get in the back.
-Always have sunglasses.
Even up here in Alaska where the sunlight comes in at a shallower angle, and thus is weaker, the glare is far too strong for me to see during the daytime. It can easily get overload-strong, even. Light reflecting off the snow in winter doesn't help. A good tip is to drive at lower light times of the day. Night driving works too, but it has it's own light problems, i.e. the other people's headlights.
-Beware of other people's headlights.
Other people's headlights are often unbearably bright, especially when they are directly behind you. Same for the people going the opposite direction. This can be helped by avoiding poorly lit, but high traffic areas at night. Also, hopefully your rear-view mirror is the type that you can flip, and have a night-mode for when someone is behind you with ridiculously bright lights.
-If you listen to music: learn how to use your MP3 player/whatever without looking.
Kind of a skill everyone should have, anyway.
-Look up directions before you even set foot in your car.
Also be aware that google maps can lie, so double-check. For very visual people, Google maps works greatly in satellite mode, as does street view.
-Consider getting a good GPS
This can give you audio instructions as you drive, takes the pressure of knowing the right way off.
-Do something to keep yourself focused on the road.
Be this music, singing, whatever. Just don't space out. Try to avoid driving when tired.
-Do all you can to reduce chance of overloads.
Do what works for you. I often listen to audiobooks while driving.



LittleBlackCat
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11 Feb 2012, 5:23 pm

The two most important things for me are:

1. Speed

I never speed. If people want to tailgate (and they frequently do) I just ignore them. The way I see it they're just bullies and you can bet that if you do speed up they'll stay right on your tail anyway. I drive at a speed I'm comfortable at, that gives me time to react to any hazards and that if something unexpected happens that's unavoidable (e.g. a small child runs into the road right in front of me) I won't have it on my conscience that if I was going 5mph slower he would have survived.

2. Distance

I always keep a good distance from the car in front of me. Again it's about giving myself time to react to stuff. Plus it's generally better for the car and for fuel consumption if you're driving at a constant speed rather than constantly racing up to the back of the next vehicle and then stopping and starting. It's generally recommended that you keep a minimum of 2 seconds behind the car in front for safety in good conditions, further if conditions are bad.

On the subject of distractions, it was actually made illegal to use a hand held mobile phone while driving in the UK a number of years ago because they were thought to be such a serious distraction (although people flout this law all the time). Personally, I have never used the phone while driving even before then.

Good luck with learning to drive :)



Jay27
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15 Feb 2012, 7:40 pm

Thanks everyone, i appreciate the feedback. I actually practiced again today, and its a lot easier than it felt the first few times. No anxiety attacks, thank god.

Obviously, the more i practice the more comfortable ill get, it just sucks that the traffic is so bad where i live.



layla87
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15 Feb 2012, 8:03 pm

Jay27 wrote:
Hey,
Im 17 and working towards getting my driver's license. I live in a very overpopulated area close to washington dc, i know that driving can become a painfully stressful task even for people who aren't on the spectrum.

So, are there any tips you can give me? Driving or non-driving aspies, just anything you can think of.


Get LOTS of practice. Man that sucks that you live in such a populated place, doesn't help with the stress. I live in a low populated area and I still get stressed out.

I don't really drive, except for a couple of times, the big thing that stresses me is the idea of hitting an animal. There are a lot less people but a lot of them have multiple dogs and cats as housepets.

I would feel awful running over any animal wild or domestic :(

anyways, to answer your question, get lots of practice and get comfortable behind the wheel. Do not drive even if you are only slightly stressed.