Content » Vol 49, Issue 3

Original report

Vision-related fitness to drive mobility scooters: A practical driving test

Christina Cordes, Joost Heutink, Oliver M. Tucha, Karel A. Brookhuis, Wiebo H. Brouwer, Bart J.M. Melis-Dankers
Clinical and developmental neuropsychology, University of Groningen, 9712TS Groningen, The Netherlands. E-mail:
DOI: 10.2340/16501977-2194


Objective: To investigate practical fitness to drive mobility scooters, comparing visually impaired participants with healthy controls.
Design: Between-subjects design.
Subjects: Forty-six visually impaired (13 with very low visual acuity, 10 with low visual acuity, 11 with peripheral field defects, 12 with multiple visual impairment) and 35 normal-sighted controls.
Methods: Participants completed a practical mobility scooter test-drive, which was recorded on video. Two independent occupational therapists specialized in orientation and mobility evaluated the videos systematically.
Results: Approximately 90% of the visually impaired participants passed the driving test. On average, participants with visual impairments performed worse than normal-sighted controls, but were judged sufficiently safe. In particular, difficulties were observed in participants with peripheral visual field defects and those with a combination of low visual acuity and visual field defects.
Conclusion: People with visual impairment are, in practice, fit to drive mobility scooters; thus visual impairment on its own should not be viewed as a determinant of safety to drive mobility scooters. However, special attention should be paid to individuals with visual field defects with or without a combined low visual acuity. The use of an individual practical fitness-to-drive test is advised.

Lay Abstract

Mobility scooters are electric vehicles with speeds between 5km/h – 15km/h that help people with motor impairments to stay mobile. However, the development of a visual impairment could make the use of mobility scooters unsafe. We therefore compared driving performance of people with different types of visual impairment (e.g. blurry vision, tunnel vision) with normal sighted people in an on-road mobility scooter driving test. We found that most of the visually impaired participants passed the driving test, although they showed more difficulties compared to normal sighted participants. Especially participants with tunnel vision experienced problems when driving the mobility scooter. These results are promising for visually impaired individuals who want to maintain their independent mobility, since they show that visually impaired people do not necessarily drive unsafely. We recommend an individual assessment for visually impaired individuals who wish to drive mobility scooters

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