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There’s More To Driving Than Meets The Eye (Sight)

July 19, 2019 by in category News with 0 and 0
Home > News > News > There’s More To Driving Than Meets The Eye (Sight)

Some of us have been known to put off the dreaded eye test for fear of being told it’s time to adorn some snazzy specs. However, be warned as your vanity in avoiding wearing glasses could mean that you break the law if you drive your vehicle when your eye sight does not meet the minimum standards for driving.

What are the minimum standards?

Although there is no regular test undertaken by the DVLA in relation to your eye sight you have a duty to ensure your vision meets the minimum eyesight standard for driving. You MUST wear your glasses or contact lenses every time you drive if you need them to meet the minimum eyesight requirements.  It is an offence not to do so and in turn could invalidate your motor insurance if you have an accident if you drive without your eyewear.

You must have a visual acuity (your central vision, the vision you use to see detail) of at least decimal 0.5 (6/12) measured on the Snellen scale. The Snellen scale is the board you will have seen in your opticians that has a number of lines of letters or numbers that you need to be able to read from. You can wear glasses or contact lenses, if necessary using both eyes together. If you only have sight in one eye, then the minimum standard must be met with that eye. You must also have an adequate field of vision (how much you can see around the edge of your vision, while looking straight ahead). For more information visit https://www.rnib.org.uk/eye-health/registering-your-sight-loss/criteria-certification.

The practical driving test – eye sight test

You may recall the start of your driving test, when the examiner asked you to read the number plate of a vehicle somewhere in the distance. The reason for this is because all drivers must be able to read a clean number plate of the new style from a minimum distance of 20 metres (approx. 66 feet or 5 car lengths). If the car used has an old number plate, the minimum distance is 20.5 metres. You are able to wear your contact lenses or glasses to do this part of the test. If you are unable to complete this part of the test after 3 attempts you will fail your driving test without even getting into the vehicle.

What are the implications?

In accordance with Rule 92 of the Highway Code  and section 96 Road Traffic Act 1988, it is an offence to drive a vehicle if your eyesight does not meet the minimum requirements (see above). Furthermore, a police constable has the power to require you to perform an eye sight test at the roadside if they suspect your eyesight does not meet the minimum requirements to drive. Failure to comply with such a test, having been required to do so by an officer, is also an offence.

Both of these offences carry an obligatory endorsement of 3 penalty points on your driving licence and a fine of up to £1000.00.

If you fail the eyesight test then a police officer can also make a request to the DVLA for an urgent revocation of your driving licence. They must only do this if they believe the safety of other road users will be put at risk if a driver remains on the road. The DVLA can issue a formal revocation notice which could be delivered to the offending driver on the same day. This is known as “Cassie’s Law.” The law was passed in memory of a young woman who was killed by a driver who had previously failed a roadside eye test and the police were still in the process of getting his licence revoked.

Reporting requirements to the DVLA

You must report any eye conditions to the DVLA that affect both eyes (and your last remaining eye if you only have one). This doesn’t include being long or short sighted or colour blind. Some of the most common eye conditions that ought to be disclosed include:

  1. Glaucoma – this leads to a loss of peripheral vision and can also cause tunnel vision which results in a loss of side vision
  2. Macular Degeneration – this is where the central vision deteriorates and usually occurs in old age
  3. Cataracts – this is when the eye lens becomes cloudy and leads to blurred vision. A person may also become sensitive to glare.
  4. Diabetic Retinopathy – this is caused by diabetes and results in patches of vision loss. A person’s vision will lack sharpness across their visual field and makes it difficult for them to drive
  5. Blindness – this is the loss of all useful vision even though light and dark may still be visible

What should I do?

The NHS recommend that you have an eye sight test every two years. Your ophthalmic practitioner or optometrist may recommend you have a sight test more often if you have diabetes, are aged 40 or over and have a family history of glaucoma or you are aged over 70.

You must wear your glasses or contact lenses whilst driving at all times if they are required to ensure your eye sight meets the minimum standard for driving. Failure to do so could result in you committing a criminal offence and putting the safety of yourself and others at risk.

Embrace Those Frames!

So, rather than dread the “four eyes” insults being slung at you, take inspiration from the words of Bake Off favourite, Prue Leith, also known as spectacle wearer of the year and having just launched her own range of brightly coloured frames:

“I really believe beautiful, colourful glasses are a morale booster. I feel distinctly more confident wearing mine. I have, I confess, at least a dozen pairs and I pick one each morning like choosing a necklace or shoes.”Prue Leith

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