The Introduction of Bioptic Driving in The Netherlands

Vis Impair Res. 2008;10(1):1-16. doi: 10.1080/13882350802053582.


BACKGROUND: In many states of the U.S.A., people with moderately reduced visual acuity e.g., 20/50 - 20/200) can legally drive with the aid of a small, spectacle-mounted ("bioptic") telescope. We conducted a demonstration project to assess the viability of implementing bioptic driving in The Netherlands. In this paper we describe the framework of the project from conception through to realization of our primary objective - the introduction of bioptic driving as a legal option for visually impaired people in The Netherlands. METHODS: The project was based on bioptic driving programs in the U.S.A., which were adapted to fit within current driving training and assessment practices in The Netherlands. The project convened a consortium of organizations including the Netherlands Bureau of Driving Skills Certificates (CBR), service organizations for the visually impaired, and research departments at universities investigating driving and vision. All organizations were educated about bioptic driving and participating professionals were trained in their specific aspects of the project. Media publicity led to significant interest and helped recruitment that enabled the screening and selection of potential participants. OUTCOMES: The project demonstrated that people with moderately reduced visual acuity can be trained to achieve an adequate level of proficient and safe driving (as assessed by the local official driving licensing professionals) when using a bioptic telescope for the road conditions in the Netherlands. Based on the successful project outcomes, a request was made to the Minister to allow bioptic driving in the Netherlands. This request has been accepted; the legal procedures for implementation are in process.