Reporting Requirements: Considerations and Information
Driver's licence standards in Victoria are set out and managed by VicRoads, a statutory State government authority. All state-based driver's licence authorities, including VicRoads, endorse and use visual and other standards for assessing fitness to drive set out by AustRoads, the association of Australian and New Zealand road transport and traffic authorities. These visual and medical standards are described in detail in the AustRoads resource Assessing Fitness to Drive.
The two most important criteria relating to driver's licences are:
- visual acuity, and
- visual fields.
Requirements and reporting against the Visual Fields Standard
Visual fields may be assessed in the first instance by automated static perimetry. If this testing, or a pre-existing medical condition or symptom, suggests requirements for an unconditional licence may not be met, a binocular fields test (Esterman or the Medmont equivalent) should be performed, and the results reported to VicRoads.
VicRoads has fairly stringent expectations relating to reporting on visual fields. To support members, Optometry Victoria has produced some specific guidance about reporting on visual fields.
For TAXI DRIVER LICENCE applicants, please complete the Vision Acuity Form (scroll to the bottom of the web page).
Visual Acuity and Visual Fields Standards: Summary
||Private Licences (Cars, motorcycles etc)
||Commercial standards (Heavy vehicles, public passenger vehicles etc)
A person is NOT fit to hold an unconditional licence if uncorrected VA in the better eye or with both eyes together is worse than 6/12.
A conditional licence may be issued if this standard is met with corrective lenses.
A driver licence will not be issued where VA in the better eye is worse than 6/24.
VA should be measured in each eye separately, without correction. IF optical correction is needed, vision should be retested with appropriate corrective lenses.
A person is not fit to hold an unconditional licence if the person's uncorrected VA is worse than 6/9 in the better eye, or worse than 6/18 in either eye.
A conditional licence may be considered where this is met with corrective lenses: for more information refer to Assessing Fitness to Drive.
VicRoads does not license taxis or public passenger vehicles.
- A person is not fit to hold an unconditional licence if the binocular field does not have a horizontal extent of at least 110 degrees within 10 degrees above and below the horizontal midline, or if there is significant field loss/scotoma within a central radius of 20 degrees of foveal fixation.
- A conditional licence may be considered taking into account any information provided by an optometrist or ophthlalmologist.
- A person is not fit to hold an unconditional licence if they have any visual field defect.
- A conditional license may be granted subject to evidence from an ophthalmologist/optometrist that the following conditions are met:
- Binocular visual field has an extent of at least 140 degrees within 10 degrees above and below the horizontal midline.
- No significant field loss/scotoma, hemianopia, quadrantinopia likely to impede driving
- Field loss is static and unlikely to progress rapidly.
There are no specific standards relating to colour vision. Patients with a colour deficiency likely to affect their capacity to respond appropriately to signal lights should be informed of this.
Monitor regularly and advise in advance of potential future impact on driving ability. Progressive conditions include for example cataract, glaucoma, optic neuropathy, retinitis pigmentosa.
A conditional licence may be considered where the visual field is 110 degrees and the visual acuity is satisfactory in the remaining eye. Generally, monocular drivers will not be considered fit to hold a commercial vehicle licence, however, it may be considered on advice of an opthalmologist or optometrist.
Optometrists may be asked to provide an eyesight report to VicRoads because:
a patient, GP, employer or an authority such as VicRoads has asked for a vision report on a particular person; or
because the optometrist is managing someone with an eye condition that may affect their ability to drive.
Both the optometrist and the patient have obligations.
Optometrists are expected to:
inform the patient of any condition that may affect his or her ability to drive, and why, and recommend any restrictions that may apply;
advise the patient of his or her responsibility to report any condition to VicRoads, if that vision condition is likely to endanger the patient or others;
report the condition after weighing the balance between patient confidentiality and the public interest, and
make assessment and provide advice to VicRoads as requested regarding a person's suitability for a conditional licence.
The optometrist must honestly and accurately record their findings, even if this might affect the person's ability to hold a licence.
The patient must report any condition affecting their ability to drive to the licence authority.
Patients who do not meet the standard: Responsibilties for reporting to VicRoads
Q: Who is responsible for reporting that a person does not meet the visual standards for a licence?
All drivers are required by law to advise VicRoads (or the equivalent body in each State/Territory) of any permanent or long-term injury or illness that may affect their capacity to drive. Penalties can be imposed for patients failing to report, and a driver may also be liable at common law if he or she continues to drive knowing he or she has a condition affecting the ability to do so safely.
You should advise patients who don't meet the standard of these obligations.
Q: If a person will not or cannot report their condition to VicRoads, do optometrists have a responsibility to report? What about confidentiality?
There is no mandatory reporting requirement in Victoria for an optometrist or health care provider to report a patient who is unfit to drive.
Optometry Victoria encourages optometrists, in the first instance, to ensure patients not meeting the visual standards are aware of their legal requirements to self-report, and encourage and support them to do so voluntarily.
The requirement of confidentiality is fundamental to the relationship between health care providers and their patients, and is also subject to legislation. On some occasions, however, there may be justifiable reasons for breaching this confidentiality.
The duty of an optometrist to maintain patient confidentiality might be outweighed by considerations of public safety if the a patient suffers from a serious vision condition, and the optometrist believes there is a risk a person may harm themselves or others by continuing to drive.
All reporting should ideally be done with the knowledge, and preferably the consent, of the individual. However, for various reasons, this may not always be possible. While it is preferable any report be made with the individual's consent, there is statutory protection if an optometrist reports a person in good faith because they believe a person to be unsafe to drive or hold a licence.