Driving With Bad Eyesight
Between 2012 and 2016 tens of thousands of driving licences have had to be revoked by the DVLA due to poor eyesight. More and more people are finding themselves without a licence in the later years of life. Group 1 licences, which cover motorbikes and cars have seen the amount of licences revoked increase sharply over time:
- 2012 - 6.960
- 2013 - 8,343
- 2014 - 9,074
- 2015 - 9,050
- 2016 - 9,092
Eyesight And Your Driving Test
Data from the DVLA has revealed that more than 2,800 people have failed their driving test before even stepping into the car due to not being able to read a number plate 20m away in the last five years.
Feel Good Contacts obtained the data through a Freedom of Information request. They've also found that the number has been increasing over the last four years, with 508 people failing their driving test due to being unable to read a number plate 20m away in 2014. In 2017, the total was 599 - an increase of 17%.
The age group with the most failings for their eyesight were between 17 and 30 with a staggering 400 of the 599 in 2017 coming from this age group.
For a Group 1 licence, you must meet minimum requirements which enable you to see hazards clearly. You can meet these standards whilst wearing glasses or contact lenses, and it includes being able to read a registration plate that is fixed to a vehicle.
For vehicles first registered on/after September 1st 2001, you must be able to read number plates from 20 metres in good light (letters and numbers to be 79mm tall and 50mm wide).
For vehicles first registered prior to September 1st 2001, you must be able to read number plates from 20.5 metres in good light (letters and numbers to be 79mm tall and 57mm wide).
Further requirements relate to your field of vision which is the width you see. At least 120 degrees is required. There are accuracy requirements, too - and the Snellen Chart tests this performance (chart opticians have on the wall which incorporates letters and numbers).
Eyesight and The Law
You can even be prosecuted if your eyesight is not up to scratch. Driving with uncorrected, defective sight or refusing to submit an eyetest to the DVLA could land you with three points on your licence.
You must also inform the DVLA if you have one of the following conditions:
- Glaucoma (damaged optic nerve)
- Cataracts (poor lens transparency)
- Tunnel vision (narrow view)
- Diplopia (double vision)
- Nyctalopia (tricky to see in low light)
It is recommended that even with what you believe to be normal eyesight, you should have your eyes checked once every two years to make sure that there aren't any gradual changes to your eyesight.