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Second Sense - Beyond Vision Loss

When is it Time to Give up the Car Keys?

December 13, 2019 | Leave a Comment

by Reprinted with permission from the International Low Vision Support Group Newsletter, Volume 14, Issue 11 – November 2019

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Man's hand holding out car keys


You are the best judge of when driving is no longer safe. But, don’t wait until you have an accident before you give up the car keys.


Signals That Might Mean it’s Time to Give Up the Car Keys

  • You are nervous behind the wheel.
  • Your reactions are too slow due to your vision.
  • You have trouble reading street signs.
  • You’ve had a near mishap because you didn’t see a pedestrian, an object or another vehicle.
  • You get lost easily.
  • Oncoming lights temporarily blind you.
  • The sun hurts your eyes, but dark lenses make it difficult to see.
  • You find it abnormally difficult to see at dusk or dawn.
  • Your color perception is diminished.
  • People whom you trust recommend it. (Sometimes they notice things you don’t.)

If you have trouble deciding for yourself about driving, the law may help you make up your mind. Your doctor should be aware of the regulations in your state and may even notify the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) about your condition.

The vision criteria for approving a driver’s license varies slightly from state to state.


Some Common Requirements

  • Minimum uncorrected visual acuity of 20/40 for unrestricted license and minimum of 20/50 for a restricted license.
  • Persons with binocular vision and visual acuity of 20/60 restricted to daytime driving only. Doctor’s report required.
  • Monocular persons need 20/40 in the fellow eye.
  • Visual acuity of 20/70 in the better eye if worse eye is 20/200 or better. 20/40 if worse eye is worse than 20/200.
  • Field of vision must be 140 degrees for a person with vision in both eyes and 105 degrees for a person with vision in only one eye.

These criteria were gathered from several states to serve as an example of the most common requirements. To learn the regulations for your state, contact your local DMV or see the comprehensive list on Prevent Blindness’s website.

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