UPDATES AND CURRENT NEWS
State of Play in Australia
Currently in Australia, there is no national policy on the use of bioptics for driving. There is evidence that people have been using biopics to drive in Australia since at least the 1980s.
In 2012, a paragraph about bioptic driving was introduced into the national legislation Assessing Fitness to Drive Guidelines. Owned jointly by the National Transport Commission (NTC) and Austroads, each state and territory licensing authority refers to these guidelines in their respective legislation for use by medical professionals. These guidelines are the gateway for potential bioptic drivers to learn of current restrictions for licensure and the medical community to assess fitness to drive.
The recent national review of these guidelines proposed a change to that paragraph about bioptic driving. Through lobbying by advocates for bioptic driving the text was reverted to the original 2012 text. See below Recent News for details. The current wording in the guidelines allows for a person who's visual acuity is less than 6/12 to present to an expert in the use of bioptic devices to be assessed as a candidate for bioptic driving.
Advocates for bioptic driving now have a window of opportunity leading up to the next national review of the guidelines expected to occur around late 2018. During this time there is a need to promote and develop supply and demand side policy, support and activities to present to government the viability of bioptic driving for the Australian context.
On the demand side more people need to be assessed as a suitable candidate and presenting to state and territory licensing authorities to apply for a conditional licence. This website will grow to provide more stories about success and how candidates overcome barriers to achieve driving success.
On the supply side, there is need to develop a bioptic driving standard within the Assessing Fitness to Drive Guidelines to give professionals consistent and informed advice on how to assess a suitable candidate. Further, both the eye sight medical community and the government officials developing and implementing policy must be made aware of the evidence base both in Australia and internationally about the safety and application of bioptic driving.
Australian Optometrist and expert in the use of bioptic devices Dr Sharon Oberstein says her young patient's vision could be corrected to allow safe vision for driving using a bioptic telescope.