The Bioptic Driver Training Process in Indiana

When the low vision specialist determines the potential bioptic driver has mastered the basic use of the bioptic, the person will be referred to a certified driving rehabilitation specialist for evaluation and training.

The video below features Sue Henderson, a certfied driving rehabilitation specialist demonstrating some of the basic steps in the behind-the-wheel training  of a bioptic driver. It features patient Mike S. You can read his story in our patient story section. It was filmed by Dr. Windsor on the streets of Fort Wayne, Indiana.

After the rehabilitation driving evaluation, the report of the low vision specialist and the report of the certified driving rehabilitation specialist are submitted to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles Medical Advisory Committee.  Upon approval by the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, the potential bioptic driver must obtain their learner’s permit.  This may require a written test.  The only thing omitted from the permit process is the eye screening normally completed by other drivers. The vision test results are reported directly from the low vision specialist. Once the permit is obtained, behind-the-wheel training can begin.

Behind-the-wheel training may require some commentary driving sessions.  This will depend on how much practice the potential driver has had before beginning this process.  It will also depend on the experience level that individual has before needing to use a bioptic for driving.

At the beginning, low volume or even off street locations are used.  This allows the driver to increase confidence and become familiar with the vehicle.  It is important to complete this training with a certified driver rehabilitation specialist with a dual control vehicle.  This allows the instructor to apply the brake if necessary.

Skills that often need remediation or additional time include lateral lane positioning.  Some drivers have a tendency to over-steer the vehicle.  They are often encouraged to scan farther ahead in the driving environment to help correct this error. 

As the driver becomes more confident, he/she is introduced to more traffic.  Completing lessons at various times of the day may show problems with glare or other traffic conditions that may require more remediation.  If needed, lessons are repeated until the driver becomes proficient in the weak area.  All types of driving available in a person’s driving environment are covered.  Familiar and unfamiliar locations are driven.  When driving in a familiar and comfortable area, drivers sometimes don’t use their bioptic lenses as often as they should.  Driving in unfamiliar areas require drivers to be more diligent in checking for signs/signals and other traffic patterns.

Once all types of driving situations and skills are mastered, the driver is escorted to the license branch to apply for their Indiana operator’s license.  They complete an extended road test with one of the senior examiners.  When successful, the driver is issued an operator’s license.  They are required to submit an annual vision exam to the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles.  At the time of renewal, the driver is required to return to the license branch to renew their driving privileges.