An estimated 4,000 Canberrans may be able to use life changing technology to drive for the first time or continue to hold the driver licence privilege. According to a 2020 report prepared by Strategy& branch of PwC Australia.
Australia-wide, this figure may be up to 228,000 people.
Founder and one of four Directors of Canberra based business Bioptic Drivers Australia (BDA) Belinda O’Connor says “despite the technology being around for decades, including people using bioptics to drive in Australia since the 1980s and bioptic driving being legitimised in national law from 2012, as for many things that are outside the usual paradigm of what is ‘normal’ and/or ‘niche’, systems and training have not been put in place to give people the option to be assessed and learn to drive using the technology… this is why we set up BDA in 2017 to give Australians the same opportunities as seen in other countries with bioptic driving frameworks”.
Canberra now has three bioptic drivers and that number is growing Australia wide.
The purpose of the demonstration day is to show Australian’s what bioptic driving is about and let people know there is an option out there for people with low to moderate central vision eyesight conditions and if people are willing to put in the effort to go through comprehensive rehabilitation training.
The other Canberra businesses donating their time and experience for this demonstration day are Ascent Training Services who run the Road Ready Centres. Along with Fifth Gear Motoring, one of Canberra’s premier driving schools. They kindly enlisted a venue slot time donation from Wakefield Park in Goulburn where the event will be hosted.
Although most licence holders will be driving their own cars, Fifth Gear Motoring will be donating their cars for use by some bioptic drivers and its instructors will be sitting in the car next to the bioptic driver verifying the driver’s commentary driving on what they say they can see while driving through the obstacle course. The drivers are not being tested but will be expected to demonstrate competent driving skills in a simulated road like setting.
ACT Minister for Transport, Chris Steel, MLA and ACT Minister for Disability Emma Davidson, MLA have been invited to attend the event.
Further to this demonstration day, on Thursday 25 November, BDA will be co-presenting a bioptic driving education session for occupational therapists and driving instructors at the ATSA Independent Living Expo being held at Exhibition Park in Canberra (EPIC).
More information about bioptic driving can be seen on the BDA website at: https://www.biopticdriversaus.com/
In addition to being a bioptic driver and founder of BDA, Belinda, is a member of Canberra based business The Disability Leadership Institute and a representative for Women with Disability ACT.