Eyesight, driving and the law

Posted on: 03 April 2012 by Gareth Hargreaves

Your sight is your most important sense while driving. Even so many of us drive without full understanding of how our eyes are affected by age.

Driving and the lawDrivers are legally required to be able to read a number plate from a distance of 20.5 metres and to wear their corrective prescription eyewear at all times. Insurance will be invalid if you can't meet this standard.

Certain eyesight conditions, such as cataracts, glaucoma and double vision, must be reported to the DVLA.

Drivers must also be able to see clearly out of the corners of their eyes and see clearly when driving in the dark. For drivers who do not take responsibility for having regular eye examinations and who are involved in an accident, the results can be extremely serious - including points added to your driving licence and a fine.

Or you could end up in jail, like the motorist who killed 18-year-old Emma Holley. She was killed by a driver with "extremely poor" vision.

Emma's family now hope this tragedy will be a warning to others: 'Emma's death has not been in vain if drivers take responsibility to ensure that their vision is good enough for them to be on the road. An eye test doesn't take long and it really can save lives,' says Emma's mother Jan Holley.

The Drive Safe Campaign is supported by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).

David Kenworthy, Chief Constable of North Yorkshire Police and Head of ACPO Road Policin says: ‘Drivers' uncorrected defective vision is a matter of ongoing concern for ACPO. We welcome Specsavers’ initiative and are encouraged by the results of a pilot scheme in West Mercia* and the positive effect it has had in reinforcing the need for a responsible approach by drivers towards their eyesight by having regular sight tests.

‘Since eyesight usually deteriorates slowly and can easily go unnoticed, drivers need to seek professional help rather than rely on their own judgement as to how good their eyesight is.

‘We have always maintained that the current eyesight requirement is not rigorous enough and would support the introduction of something more stringent, which fully tested all aspects of vision. Following the outcome of the West Mercia pilot scheme, ACPO is working closely with Specsavers with a view to conducting a national eyesight campaign this autumn.’

Your eyes and driving?

If you have noticed a difference in your ability to see when driving, your Specsavers optician can recommend various options. Follow the link to find your nearest Specsavers Optician.

* The West Mercia Pilot test was a random roadside eye test trial, conducted in conjunction with The Eyecare Trust and West Mercia police.

>> Back to Eye Health in Later Life hub

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