Will an Individual Who Is Blind Soon Be Able To Drive A Car?

One question we are frequently asked by our young patients with vision impairment is “Will I be able to drive a car”? All too often unfortunately our answer to this all important question is “No”. That may be all a thing of the past fairly soon!

The legal vision requirements for driving a car with an unrestricted drivers licence in NSW is vision of 6/12 or better, tested with both eyes open. Currently, we do often have the capacity to recommend a patient be eligible for a restricted drivers licence, where they may be only allowed to drive during daylight hours, or only be able to drive within 40kms of their home. This option is great, but we cannot advocate for this in every single case.

We are sure that you have all heard of the exciting developments in the form of driverless cars from the clever people at Google. It may seem like a very foreign concept, a scary proposal! We believe that in the very near future, we will be seeing these driverless cars motoring safely around Sydney.

This is a huge development for anyone who is currently unable to obtain a drivers licence, particularly for patients like ours who are blind or visually impaired.

The American state of California has just started the process of legislative change to allow these cars to be driven by unlicensed drivers, or more correctly, drivers who are not human. Currently, the law dictates that these autonomous cars must be driven by a licensed human driver. Legislative change is hoping for this to be amended to allow the term “driver” to mean the car itself, rather than the human occupant, therefore allowing an unlicenced, or blind person to “drive” the car.

Current Google driverless cars in America are being trialled without pedals or steering wheels, but funnily enough, by law they still require side and rear-view mirrors!

For more information on this very exciting development, please take a look at this video from ABC News America:


If you would like further information or to organise a comprehensive eye examination, please contact Sydney Ophthalmic Specialists to book in with our expert team of ophthalmologists on (02) 9241 2914.