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Expected guideline reversal a win for vision impaired drivers

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Changes to the Assessing Fitness to Drive (AFTD) guidelines that prevented people with central vision loss from obtaining a licence appear set to be reversed.

The change is in part a response to lobbying from Vision 2020 Australia, who were alerted to the issue by individuals from the vision impaired and telescopic driving community last year. 

Prior to the review the guidelines recommended that, while there were no set standards for telescopic lenses, drivers wanting to use these devices could have their fitness to drive individually assessed by a qualified eye health professional.    

Yet, in what is understood to be an inadvertent change, the wording in the 2016 AFTD was amended to state that telescopic lenses were not an acceptable aid to meet the standards of a conditional licence. This change prevented a number of previously eligible people from obtaining a licence and left others fearful of losing their right to drive.

However, Vision 2020 Australia CEO Ms Carla Northam has said following communication with the National Transport Commission, the changes to the guidelines will be reviewed and likely reversed.

“This will mean Australians with central vision loss, who wish to use telescopic lenses to drive, will go back to being assessed on a case-by-case basis. For these individuals, an amendment to the guidelines will be life changing,” she said.

“We thank the National Transport Commission for looking into this important issue and we look forward to a positive final result. We call on the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Transport and Infrastructure Council to hand down a favourable decision.”

A vote on the issue is likely to occur in the coming weeks. Until that time, all state and territory licensing authorities have been asked to follow the pre-2016 AFTD review guidelines until a final decision is made.

State and territory licensing authorities have also been asked to review any licences that may have been revoked due to this change since the 2016 guidelines were published.