Home » Blog Posts » To Drive or Not to Drive…that is the question.

To Drive or Not to Drive…that is the question.

driving_animationA very hot topic has been broached.

When do you determine that your Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) or any other vision disorder should keep you from driving?

I am part of several groups on Facebook for the vision impaired and this topic is and probably always will be a hot topic. I heard some very disturbing news yesterday and thought this would be an excellent topic for a post. I found out that one of the people in the groups I am a part of has less than 25 degrees of vision left and is still driving. To me, this is absurd…and VERY dangerous for him and anyone around him…and it makes me MAD!

With this being said I have about 40 degrees remaining in each eye for a total of approximately 80 degrees of vision. In the state of North Carolina, where I live, you must surrender your license if you have 60 degrees remaining or less in both eyes together. In the meantime I am practicing safe driving by not driving at night due to night blindness and I avoid driving when I know the roads are going to be busy, such as parking lots on the weekend. I am fortunate that I have two children who drive and my third will be driving in a year. An eye doctor is required by law to report his findings if your field visual test does not meet state requirements.

Below is a list of state vision requirements regarding degrees of vision. This list should be helpful if you have RP and are still driving. Please keep in mind that these numbers are not stand-alone numbers; There are many stipulations that go with each so please check out the website link below or contact your local DMV for more information. The numbers provided include the total for both eyes unless otherwise noted.

Alabama: 100 degrees

Alaska: 60 degrees

Arizona: 70 degrees

Arkansas: 105 degrees

California: No degrees listed but if vision is worse than 20/200 (legally blind) you will not be allowed to drive.

Colorado: No degrees listed but vision can’t be worse than 20/40 in each eye

Connecticut: 70 degrees

Delaware: No degrees listed but vision can’t be worse than 20/40 in each eye; 20/50 and daylight driving only will be allowed

District of Columbia: 130 degrees

Florida: 130 degrees

Hawaii: 140 degrees

Georgia: 140 degrees

Idaho: No degrees listed but vision can’t be worse than 20/70 in each eye

Illinois: 140 degrees

Indiana: 120 degrees

Iowa: 140 degrees

Kansas: 110 degrees

Kentucky: 120 degrees

Louisiana: No degrees listed but vision can’t be worse than 20/40 in each eye

Maine: 110 degrees

Maryland: 110 degrees

Massachusetts: 120 degrees

Michigan: 110 degrees

Minnesota: 100 degrees

Mississippi: 140 degrees

Missouri: 140 degrees

Montana: No degrees listed but vision can’t be worse than 20/100 in each eye

Nebraska: 140 degrees

Nevada: 130 degrees

New Hampshire: No degrees listed but vision can’t be worse than 20/40 in each eye; 20/50 and daylight driving only will be allowed

New Jersey: No degrees listed but vision can’t be worse than 20/50 in each eye

New Mexico: 120 degrees

New York: 140 degrees

North Carolina: 60 degrees

North Dakota: 105 degrees

Ohio: 115 degrees

Oklahoma: 70 degrees

Oregon: 110 degrees

Pennsylvania: 120 degrees

Rhode Island: 115 degrees

South Carolina: 110 degrees

South Dakota: No visual field requirement and vision can’t be worse than 20/60 in each eye

Tennessee: 150 degrees

Texas: 140 degrees

Utah: 140 degrees

Vermont: 120 degrees

Virginia: 100 degrees

Washington: 110 degrees

West Virginia: No visual field requirement and vision can’t be worse than 20/60 in each eye

Wisconsin: 40 degrees

Wyoming: 120 degrees

For more detailed information, click here.

PLEASE…I urge you to be safe and make smart choices for yourself and those around you.

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  1. Jo Murphy says:

    The driving issues is linked with many things such as epilepsy. It is extremely difficult for some people not to be allowed to drive. As people get older this become an issue too. Great topic, Jo

  2. Jessica N and Makiko says:

    I have never truly drove.. I am 23 with less than 20 degrees of vision in each eye but when I was 40 in each eye my doctor said I could likely still drive. This is in Texas whereas according to you and I do believe it is something around there, it is 140. The times I have been behind the wheel were when a parent was in the car. I long for it but then again at the same time I don’t. It’s a weird feeling. I still have my drivers license but I do not drive and never will unfortunately. It sucks but I personally would stop driving soon if I were you but of course to each his own. The statement that really made me think and never get behind the wheel again was a friend with RP told me, “What if you were driving and everything was clear and you were doing great and then all of a sudden this kid runs out from his mother’s hand/control and jumps in front of your car. You never saw the kid but now he is dead and you’ll have to live with that forever.” Yes, it is an extreme case but we have extreme vision loss. Just my two cents. Good post.. it will always be one of those sensitive hot topics.

    • I have heard several stories of the car situation and keep that in my mind while driving. It’s good advice to stop driving but such a personal and individual decision…unfortunately it’s not always an easy one to make. :-)

  3. I can only imagine why I would keep driving with such compromised vision. I live on the edge of bus service, but not close enough to qualify for the transportation service in my area. I am grateful that my husband, family, and friends can drive me places. I’m grateful I can ride the bus to work. But I can’t assume everyone is like me and in my situation with options. And let’s be honest, most of suburban and rural US is built with the idea that everyone drives everywhere. Some neighborhoods don’t even have sidewalks anymore. Extra thoughts aside, I hope those of us with vision impairments can make the hard decision to stop driving before it is made for us.

  4. I agree with you. That person should not be driving! Problem is, many of us with RP can pass the vision test and keep quiet about our peripheral vision. I quit driving as I thought that I just wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I did cause injury (or death) to anyone else. It is incredibly frightening to think that some states allow those with limited vision on the road! Know which states I won’t be visiting.

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