Eyesight & Driving

Posted on Monday 10th January 2022 in News

Taking care of your vision is vital to keeping yourself and others safe on the roads. 

Bad eyesight and driving can be a potentially lethal combination. Many of us are often guilty of assuming regular eyesight checks are specifically required for older drivers, whereas it’s important for all drivers, no matter our age, to undertake regular health checks on our eyes.

It’s important that you can see clearly when driving or riding and that you meet the legal standards of vision. You must be able to read a car number plate in good daylight from 20 metres – using your glasses or contact lenses if needed. You also have to prove you have an adequate field of vision. If you cannot do this, you should not be driving. You must also have a visual acuity of at least decimal 0.5 (6/12) measured on the Snellen scale and an adequate field of vision. If you are in any doubt, you should speak to an optician or optometrist.

Drivers aged over 70 must declare when renewing their licence that their eyesight meets minimum legal standards. Whilst they don’t have to provide evidence of this, they could be held liable if they’re in a collision and it’s believed the poor eye health was a contributing factor.

What are the dangers of driving with poor eyesight?

  • Poor observation: Poor eyesight means you may miss seeing and reacting to hazards, such as road debris, other vehicles and sudden changes in traffic movement.
  • Changes to your route: An unexpected diversion or disruption may be missed if you cannot clearly see road signage.
  • Driving at night or in bad weather: Even drivers with strong eyesight can find it challenging to drive in the dark or poor weather conditions, so if you’ve got weak eyesight, you’re particularly vulnerable to risk on the roads.  Drivers with impaired vision are even more likely to experience blurred vision, dazzle and have difficulty focusing.

How SSRP helps drivers make informed choices.

Sussex Safer Roads Partnership proactively respond to Operation Crackdown reports where concerns of eyesight health and fitness to drive are raised. Once reports are raised, members of the Casualty Reduction Team will visit the driver and conduct an eyesight test and discuss any wider concerns the driver may have with their overall fitness to drive.

Frequently asked questions:

  • Do I need to inform the DVLA of my eyesight?
    You must tell DVLA if you’ve got any problem with your eyesight that affects both of your eyes, or the remaining eye if you only have one eye. This does not include being short or long sighted or colour blind.
  • How often should I get an eyesight test?
    It is recommended that everyone gets their eyes tested every 2 years, making sure to regularly check for any changes to sight.
  • What happens when I re-apply for my licence at 70?
    Once a driver is 70 they must re-apply for their driving licence every 3 years. Although it’s not a requirement of the re-application process to have an eyesight test, it can be a good opportunity for older drivers to check their vision still meets the required standard.
  • What happens if I get caught driving with eyesight below the required standard?
    If found to be driving with eyesight below the required standard, you could face up to a £1,000 fine, 3 points on your licence or a potential disqualification from driving. The police can also request to have your licence revoked with immediate effect if they believe you pose a risk to the public.