Elderly drivers in the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe are required to pass a test of their center field of vision while in the United States, such a test is not required. Age-related macular degeneration can cause blind spots in the center of the field of vision. A recent study involving a driving test evaluated 11 people with blind spots of various sizes to the left or right of center and 11 people without vision loss. Drivers were supposed to honk their horn whenever they saw a pedestrian appear on each side of the road (about once per minute) and the drivers with blind spots were slower to honk compared to the drivers with normal vision. In some cases, drivers failed to see the pedestrian at all. The drivers with blind spots would not have been able to get a driver's license in the U.K. or in Canada and they reacted too late to avoid an accident 29 percent of the time compared to only 3 percent of drivers with normal vision who reacted too late. Vision requirements in the United States are mainly based on visual acuity and testing does not take into consideration specific visual impairments.*
Should elderly American drivers be tested for blind spots?
- by Dr. Paul Krawitz
- 30 January, 2013