Resources

Driving & CVI

This information is written in two parts.

Part 1. General information

Part 2. UK driving regulations

Part 1. General information

Many young people with cerebral visual impairment ask the question...

"Will I be able to drive" or "Can I drive?"

Most countries have legal restrictions upon who can drive and these differ from country to country, (and in the US from state to state), so one has to look up the regulations for where one lives to find out whether the legal constraints make the answer "Yes" or "No" for you.

The specific regulations about vision for driving, apply to the area over which one can see, (called the visual field). These state how wide and how high your visual field needs to be to gain a driving licence.

The same applies to how clearly one can see. If vision, corrected with glasses (with both eyes open) is below the legal limit, then one cannot obtain a driving licence.

What should those who have vision within these legal limits, yet have other visual difficulties do? This is a grey area. There are specific guidelines for the UK (see below). Those living elsewhere need to find out what the regulations are for their own country.

There are a number of issues to think about:

The key issue is safety, the safety of other people and personal safety.

The aspects of cerebral visual impairment which can make driving hazardous are...

To drive safely one needs to have good...

  • visual attention
  • ability to see fast moving objects
  • ability to read all the road signs

Each of these visual skills can be limited by cerebral visual impairment in some people.

Visual attention
Research has shown that the greatest visual risk factor for road traffic accidents is lack of visual attention, for this reason, in the United Kingdom computer based testing of visual attention is part of the driving test. If one is unable to pass this test, then it is not possible to gain a licence.

Seeing fast moving objects
If fast movement cannot be seen, then there may be a risk to driving, depending upon the degree of visual difficulty.

Ability to read the road signs
In the UK this is tested.

Finding out whether it is safe to drive

It has been our experience that for some people with CVI, their clarity of vision (visual acuity) can improve with time, and that this can continue until the early twenties. So if your visual acuity is borderline for obtaining a driving licence it is a good idea to wait and see whether you are fortunate enough for this to happen.

In the UK it is the role of the optometrist to carry out the tests for the driving licence authority. So one can visit an optometrist and undergo the requisite tests of visual acuity and visual field after having been tested for and given appropriate glasses if these are needed. If these are insufficient for a driving licence do not apply, but wait and see if your vision improves.

For the other aspects of vision, a way forward is to seek some preliminary driving lessons from a driving instructor with a dual control car on private land, to find out whether you can drive safely.

Part 2. UK Driving regulations

UK regulations give the responsibility to the driver. The key government advice being...

"You must tell DVLA if you've got any problem with your eyesight that affects both of your eyes, or the remaining eye if you only have one eye. This doesn't include being short or long sighted or colour blind. ... You could be prosecuted if you drive without meeting the standards of vision for driving."

It is important to recognise that anyone who does not do this, and is a driver, is not covered by insurance.

This is the UK government website page:

https://www.gov.uk/driving-eyesight-rules

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At CVI Scotland we are devoted to helping people understand cerebral visual impairments, and together working towards developing the understanding of this complex condition.