Does DLD affect driving behaviours?

Durkin, K., Toseeb, U., Pickles, A., Botting, N., & Conti-Ramsden, G. (2016). Learning to drive in young adults with language impairment. Transportation research part F: traffic psychology and behaviour, 42, 195-204.


Aim of the paper:


Several studies have suggested that driving skills can be impacted by developmental disorders, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and dyslexia. However, little is known about how developmental language disorder (DLD) impacts driving behaviours. This study aimed to examine the early driving experiences of 24-year-old young adults with and without DLD. The readiness for entry into driving (e.g., getting a driving license) and safety indicators of driving (e.g., accident rates) were investigated.


What was found:


  • At age 24, fewer participants with DLD had obtained a driving license compared to those without DLD. However, 43% of young adults with DLD did successfully obtain a full driving license.

  • The largest barrier to getting a driving license was the Theory part of the test. Fewer young adults with DLD had taken the theory component and, of those who had taken it, a smaller proportion had passed it compared to those without DLD.

  • Young adults with DLD found language and information processing features of the tasks (e.g., reading the instructions and the time limit) difficult in the Theory test.

  • There was no significant difference in the pass rate of the practical test between young adults with and without DLD.

  • Language ability and the parent-rated independence at age 17 contributed to the prediction of having a driving license at age 24.

  • There was no significant difference in the traffic violation or accident rates between young adults with and without DLD.


What does this mean?


Overall, entry into driving can be more challenging for young adults with DLD than those without DLD. Importantly, the findings also suggest that once young adults with DLD overcome the barrier of obtaining a driving license, they are just as likely to become safe and responsible drivers as their peers. To ensure that young adults with DLD experience the same opportunities in obtaining a driving license as those without DLD, young adults should be able to tell test officials about their language difficulties. Driving test facilities should provide appropriate language support and consider adapting the testing procedures to match the needs of aspiring young drivers with DLD, particularly the theory test.


Where can I read this paper?


This paper is open access, which means everyone can read it.

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