New driving standards are creating concerns for autistic drivers. 

Politicians, psychologists, and individuals with autism are grappling with concerns over Australia's updated national Assessing Fitness to Drive (AFTD) standards, which now list autism as a medical condition impacting driving. 

Critics argue that these standards are “discriminatory"”and cause unnecessary hurdles for autistic drivers.

Reports say some people are already cancelling autism assessment appointments due to fears of legal and financial consequences for not disclosing their condition. 

Zena Burgess, CEO of the Australian Psychological Society, has called the rules “humiliating” and notes that they do not consider individuals' circumstances, skills, or needs.

The 2022 AFTD standards, applicable nationwide, have sparked controversy in Queensland due to a state law requiring drivers to disclose medical conditions affecting driving. 

Autism was added to the list of reportable conditions in 2012, and failure to obtain medical clearance incurs a fine of up to $9,288.

The National Transport Commission has defended the standards, stating that they underwent extensive consultation with experts. 

However, drivers argue that the rules unfairly stigmatise and discriminate against those with autism based on a medical diagnosis rather than their driving ability.

Drivers across states express varying reporting requirements, with concerns raised over the lack of consistency and understanding of the nuanced presentations of autism. 

Greens senator Jordon Steele-John has called for more research into autism and driving, suggesting that the cost of assessments should be funded by state governments.

Medical professionals, including occupational therapy driving assessors, are calling for functional assessments rather than mandatory disclosure, noting that autism itself does not imply an inability to drive safely.

While assessments are deemed crucial, the shortage of specialised driving instructors and lengthy waiting periods raise additional challenges.