Awareness Campaign to Promote the Safety of Autistic Drivers

Awareness Campaign to Promote the Safety of Autistic Drivers

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Andrea Scullin started this petition to Massachusetts State House and

While there is no solid data on the number of Autistic people in the state of Massachusetts, we know that there are roughly 16,000 children and 75,000 people who have been diagnosed as Autistic. Autism is a developmental condition that impacts communication and behavior, among other things. Due to the nature of autism and the high stakes nature of law enforcement, we worry about potential interactions between autistic drivers and the police.

In January 2020, the state of Connecticut implemented the blue envelope program for autistic drivers. Impacted drivers can pick up a blue envelope at their local DMV, the purpose of the envelope is to hold identification, registration, or other relevant documents that could be needed for a traffic stop or accident. The envelope contains helpful tips to improve the interaction between the driver and the police officer. In 2015, Mass Legislators looked at a bill that would provide an Autism designation on any state-issued drivers license or I.D. for Autistic drivers. The bill was redrafted and sent to Ways and Means in 2017, with no progress or update made since. This is not acceptable and the delay in passing meaningful legislation to assist Autistic drivers doesn’t just hurt our drivers, it sets up our officers for challenges also.

Autistic drivers are entitled to the same protections and rights that their non-autistic counterparts enjoy. To ensure that they are set up for success with communications for the police, we feel strongly that there should be some voluntary identification process set up to assist with this. Whether it be a blue envelope like Connecticut, a designation on the license, or a wallet card that a driver can discretely share with an officer, we want something put in place. However, it is not enough to simply implement a program. Any meaningful change also requires a training component. To roll out with this process, we are also seeking a training component for police officers to help aide in their interactions with autistic drivers. We want police further trained in de-escalation techniques, particularly with someone with communication challenges and trained in how to improve communication in general with someone who might struggle.

We can and should do better for our Autistic citizens and we believe that creating and implementing this tool will help us do just that.

0 have signed. Let’s get to 100!
At 100 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!