Many years ago, I worked at a camp for blind and visually impaired children in Malibu, California. I wrote songs with the kids and was the host of a talent show program. It was a very inspiring experience. While at the camp, I was surprised to find that under some circumstances, blind and visually people can legally drive a car. Since then, with advances in driving assistance technology, even more blind and visually impaired people have this capability.

‘Mr. T,’ my visually impaired friend, drives a monster truck around Los Angeles

car safety, cars, weird car news

Visually impaired student driving a car at The MasterDrive Experience | Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post

At the camp, there was a visually impaired counselor who had the camp name, “Mr. T.” My camp name was “The Wisco Kid,” which pays homage to my home state of Wisconsin. On my first day at the camp, one of the first things that I saw was Mr. T driving an extended-length golf cart, transporting people to and from the cabins.

A theme of the camp was to encourage kids to explore the possibilities of life. With this in mind, it was very fitting that a visually impaired counselor was the official driver of the blind and visually impaired children at the camp. 

During my time at the camp, I became good friends with Mr. T. He was an avid surfer. I first learned to surf in Malibu after Mr. T let me borrow his surfboard. In addition to driving an extended-length golf cart at the camp, Mr. T drove a massive monster truck. It was surreal to ride in the monster truck with Mr. T at the wheel, cruising around Los Angeles, elevated above the traffic. 

This was when I first found out that it is legal for some blind and impaired people to drive a car. In case you’re wondering, Mr. T is an excellent driver. He drove very cautiously and carefully. His only limitation, as required by law, is that he can only drive during the daylight hours. 

Legal driving requirements for blind and visually impaired people

To understand the legal driving requirements for blind and visually impaired people, we must first look at what constitutes blindness. According to the American Foundation for the Blind, only 15% of people with eye disorders are completely blind. As far as the remaining 85%, visual impairments have three classifications: moderate (20/160 vision), severe (20/400 vision), and profound (20/1,000 vision). Furthermore, someone may have a visual impairment in either both eyes or just one. 

Passing an eye exam with 20/40 vision is one of the requirements for getting your driver’s license in most states. At first glance, it seems that this would disqualify blind and visually impaired people from legally being able to drive a car. However, most states have some flexibility for the vision requirements.

Exceptions that enable blind and visually impaired people to be able to legally drive include:

  • A restricted driver’s license or permit
  • Passable vision in one eye and visual impairment in the other eye
  • Use of visionary aids, such as telescopic lenses
  • A conditional driver’s license that requires things like driver training, scheduled updates, and reports from an optometrist or ophthalmologist

As is the case with Mr. T, the most common type of legal restriction for blind and visually impaired drivers is that they can only drive during daylight hours. Typically, the acuity of a person’s eyesight diminishes with less light.

Driving assistance technologies and self-driving cars help blind and visually impaired people

The rapid advancement in technology opened the door for driving possibilities for blind and visually impaired people. For one, telescopic lenses give many people with eye disorders the ability to drive. Furthermore, most new cars offer many driving assistance technologies, such as lane departure warning, blind-spot monitor, automatic braking, and pedestrian detection. These new technologies are a very helpful aid to visually impaired drivers.

Also, with the advancement of autonomous and self-driving cars, the future offers many new possibilities for blind and visually impaired people. With self-driving cars transporting them, blind and visually impaired people can enjoy considerably more freedom and independence. 

A bright future for blind and visually impaired drivers

These new technologies give me a great deal of hope. I have a soft spot for blind and visually impaired people. In addition to my work with blind and visually children at the camp in Malibu, I worked on projects for blind and visually impaired people in several countries around the world. 

One of the most life-changing experiences was working with blind and visually impaired children in Laos. The children are victims of bombs that explode. There is a massive amount of unexploded ordnance (UXO) that litters the country from America’s illegal CIA-backed bombing campaign in Laos during the Vietnam War. (If you want an “eye-opening” experience, Google “What is the most bombed country of all time.”)

It’s sad to see the difficulties that blind and visually impaired people have to endure. However, at the same time, it’s inspiring to see the perseverance and creativity that they show in overcoming their challenges. Hopefully, new technologies will give blind and visually impaired people even greater opportunities to explore the possibilities of life, including driving a car.

This article was updated on 7/17/2022.

NEWS RELATED

Who Are the ‘Kia Boys’ Showing TikTok Users How To Steal Your Car?

The theft of Kia and Hyundai vehicles nearly tripled this summer. You may be able to trace this trend back to a TikTok video in which the self-named “Kia Boys” showed would-be ne’er-do-wells how to easily steal certain Kia and Hyundai models. Though TikTok has deleted the original video, police ...

View more: Who Are the ‘Kia Boys’ Showing TikTok Users How To Steal Your Car?

These Are the Most Useful Car Features According to U.S. News

A few years ago, U.S. News listed car features, some of them being for safety, others for convenience, such as natural voice recognition, or entertainment with regards to the infotainment system. In this article, we’ll go over those car features and discuss what makes them useful and which car features ...

View more: These Are the Most Useful Car Features According to U.S. News

2022 Toyota Tundra, 2022 Lexus NX recalled for parking brake issue

The redesigned 2022 Toyota Tundra pickup truck and redesigned 2022 Lexus NX compact crossover are being recalled for a faulty sensor that could prevent the electronic parking brake from being engaged, the NHTSA disclosed on Monday. If the parking brake can’t be engaged, and the driver ignores or disregards ...

View more: 2022 Toyota Tundra, 2022 Lexus NX recalled for parking brake issue

5 Ways to Prevent a Parking Lot Accident

Roadways can be dangerous, but so can parking lots, with approximately 50,000 collision-related incidents yearly. The main reason seems to be that drivers will let their guard down when they enter these areas because driving is generally slower. They also don’t always follow general rules and regulations, which can easily ...

View more: 5 Ways to Prevent a Parking Lot Accident

3 Steps to Take if Your Car Is Stolen

Having your car stolen is one of those things that we all assume happens to other people but never to us. The unfortunate truth is that this can befall anyone. So, what do you do if you find yourself the victim of car theft? We’ve got some car safety tips ...

View more: 3 Steps to Take if Your Car Is Stolen

Why Do Cars Have a 3rd Brake Light?

Every time you step on your car’s brake pedal, the brake lights will illuminate to alert following drivers you’re slowing or stopping. Brake lights are an essential car safety feature, without which our roadways would be risky and chaotic. However, until the 1980s, motor vehicles were legally required to have only ...

View more: Why Do Cars Have a 3rd Brake Light?

2023 Toyota RAV4 Safety and ADAS Features: Everything You Need to Know

The 2023 Toyota RAV4 brings a lot to the table, and like many other Toyotas, that includes a lot of safety features. Many of these safety features are standard, and some are also advanced driver assistance systems, or ADAS, which improve the safety of the RAV4 even more. Here’s everything ...

View more: 2023 Toyota RAV4 Safety and ADAS Features: Everything You Need to Know

3 Instances When You Should Never Use Your Parking Brake

One of the most important aspects of a car is the brakes. Every driver interested in car safety should know when to use them. There are apparent scenarios where it would be a good idea to use the brakes. However, sometimes drivers should avoid using their brakes, especially the parking ...

View more: 3 Instances When You Should Never Use Your Parking Brake

Can Wrapping Your Car Keys In Foil Prevent Your Car from Being Stolen?

6 Things You Can Do to Prevent Car Theft

Does The Government Record Everywhere You Drive?

2022 Toyota Tundra achieves best IIHS safety rating among pickups

Is It Illegal to Take a Selfie Photo While Driving a Car?

Why Do Some Police Cars Have Cameras on Their Trunks?

Who Causes More Car Accidents: Teens or Seniors?

You Can Avoid Most Rear-End Collisions by Following 1 Simple Rule

School Bus Rules: When You Should and Shouldn’t Stop

What to Do When Your Wipers Are Smearing Instead of Wiping

Can Theft Be Covered by Car Insurance?

4 Tips to Remember When Sharing the Road With Motorcycles

OTHER NEWS

Breaking thailand news, thai news, thailand news Verified News Story Network