Over 7,000 motorists a year stripped of their driving licence because they can’t see

Optometrists back call to make regular eye tests mandatory for drivers

Friday, 10th January 2020, 12:01 am
Updated Wednesday, 15th January 2020, 12:39 pm
More than 130 motorists a week are found to have eyesight that doesn't meet minimum standards to driver

More than 130 drivers a week have their driving licence revoked by the DVLA because their eyesight doesn’t meet the minimum standard.

Figures from the DVLA reveal that an average of 7,000 people a year lose their licence due to failing eyesight but it is feared there could be many more with unsafe vision still on the roads.

The data was obtained by Direct Line Motor Insurance which also found that an average of 12 learners each week are refused a licence before even getting behind the wheel because their vision isn’t up to scratch.

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If your eyesight is not good enough your driving licence can be revoked

The DVLA requires drivers to be able to read (with glasses or contact lenses if necessary) a car number plate from 20 metres, have accurate vision to at least decimal 0.5 (6/12) measured on the Snellen scale and an adequate field of vision.

Failure to meet these standards means drivers face having their licence taken away and between January 2017 to September 2019 19,644 drivers fell foul of the rules.

Putting others at risk

Separate research suggests as many as 8.9 million drivers haven’t had their eyes tested in the last two years, meaning many more could be suffering from deteriorating vision without realising.

Worryingly, the research found that as many as a quarter of motorists would continue to drive even if they knew their eyesight wasn’t up to the legal minimum standard, putting themselves and other road users at risk.

It also found that more than three-quarters of optometrists (81 per cent) supported changing the law to make annual eye tests mandatory for drivers.

Failing to inform the DVLA of a medical condition which affects you ability to drive carries a fine of £1,000 and if defective vision is found to have contributed to a crash you could be prosecuted.

Steve Barrett, head of motor insurance at Direct Line, commented: “If people do not have regular eye tests, they may not even realise their vision is impaired when they get behind the wheel, which leaves them a danger to themselves and other road users.

“A simple eye test, that takes a moment in time, can ensure drivers have the appropriate corrective glasses or contact lenses so that their vision is adequate to drive.”

Dr Nigel Best, clinical spokesperson for Specsavers said: “Our vision can deteriorate slowly, meaning it is sometimes difficult to detect a change ourselves but subtle variations can increasingly affect both perception and reaction time when driving. We welcome this research and hope it will make more road users aware of the risks they run by not having regular eye tests, whether it is potentially losing your driving license or worse, causing a collision on the road.

“It takes around 25 minutes for an optician to conduct a thorough vision and eye health check. To take this simple step every two years or more, if recommended by your optician, isn’t an arduous task, particularly when you weigh up the potentially negative consequences of driving with impaired vision.”