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Auditory Global Positioning System and Advanced Driver Assistance Systems

A Safer Alternative to Bioptic Telescopes for Drivers Who Are Visually Impaired?

Wilkinson, Mark E., OD1*; McGehee, Daniel V., PhD2

doi: 10.1097/OPX.0000000000001326
PERSPECTIVES

ABSTRACT This work challenges the standard of the past 40 years, which required the use of a bioptic telescope by individuals with vision loss wanting to be licensed to drive in most states in the United States.

Driving continues to be the key to independence for many individuals, particularly older drivers who live in an area where public transportation is limited or nonexistent. For the past 40 years, the most frequently option to allow drivers who are visually impaired to maintain driving privileges was to require them to use a bioptic telescope. Bioptic telescopes were felt to be necessary for wayfinding when driving. In addition, it was thought that a person could look through a bioptic telescope and still be aware of the driving environment around him/her. Human factor research has shown that the assertion that an individual can attend to two tasks simultaneously is not possible. Taking one's eyes off the road for as little as 2 seconds can lead to lane position breakdown. In 2018, wayfinding can now be more easily accomplished with the use of ubiquitous technologies like Global Positioning System systems on our telephones and in our cars. Driver distraction principles support safer alternatives to bioptic telescopes because these audio options allow the drivers to maintain their eyes and their attention on the road and the traffic around them. The switching of view within the bioptic spectacles is attentionally demanding, and the visual field restriction of such devices reduces overall situation awareness by narrowing the driver's attention.

1Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa

2Colleges of Engineering and Medicine, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa *mark-wilkinson@uiowa.edu

Submitted: April 18, 2018

Accepted: September 25, 2018

Funding/Support: None of the authors have reported funding/support.

Conflict of Interest Disclosure: None of the authors have reported a conflict of interest.

Author Contributions: Writing – Review & Editing: MEW, DVM.

© 2019 American Academy of Optometry