Eyesight Requirements for Driving – How Well Can You See?

From spotting pedestrians on the road at night, to identifying give way signs in the fog, changing lanes on the motorway, to reading your speedometer, it’s clear to see why strong eyesight is absolutely essential for driving – both for your own safety and the safety of others.

Every year approximately 3,000 casualties are caused by poor driver vision in the UK, costing £33 million and untold grief for families affected. So, if you drive, it’s vitally important to book regular eye examinations to keep your vision up to date.

To drive legally in Britain, you are required to meet a legal standard of vision for driving. You must be able to:

  • Clearly read a number plate from 20 meters away – you can regularly carry out this simple test yourself.
  • Read the 6/12 letters on a Snellen chart with both eyes – or one if you only have vision in one eye during your sight test.
  • Have adequate peripheral vision.

If you need glasses or contact lenses and have been advised to wear them whilst driving by your optometrist, it is a legal requirement that you wear them at all times whilst on the road. You also must declare certain eye or general medical conditions that may affect your driving to the DVLA, or face a £1,000 fine.

You may have been active behind the wheel for many years, unaware that you don’t meet these eyesight requirements for driving. But if you cause an accident and your eyesight is below the legal standard, it may mean your motor insurance becomes invalid and you will be liable for any damage or harm caused. If you fail a roadside eye test, the police have the power to immediately confiscate your licence and ban you from driving under Cassie’s Law.

The good news is that ‘road ready’ eyesight is usually a matter sorted with Infocus’ comprehensive eye test in London and an up to date eyewear prescription. 

Elderly drivers in particular, are more at risk of letting their eyewear prescription lapse, as becomes harder to notice changes to vision. As your eyes mature, they become less able to adapt to changes in light conditions – at 15 years old your eyes can recover from glare in 2 seconds, but by 65 it takes 9 seconds, making night driving more challenging. Over 65s are also more likely to experience eye conditions that could affect their vision, such as cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and macular degeneration. If these conditions aren’t treated in the early stages, they could cause irreversible damage, and a permanent revocation of your driving licence.

But being older shouldn’t preclude you from enjoying your car. According to DVLA records, 110,790 people aged over 90 and 314 people aged over 100 can legally drive on the road. You just need to make sure your vision is at the legal standard!

National guidelines recommend adults book a comprehensive eye examination every two years, while those over 65 should book annual appointments. So, if you’re worried that your prescription might not be up to date, keep yourself and others safe on the road this winter and book your eye test in London or contact us on 0207 224 7400 to ensure you meet the standard of vision for driving.