DVLA is launching a national eyesight awareness campaign today (Monday 23 July 2018).
Drivers will be encouraged to take the ‘number plate test’ – a quick and easy way to check they meet the minimum eyesight requirements for driving. By law, all drivers must meet the minimum eyesight standards at all times when driving – this includes being able to read a number plate from 20 metres.
The campaign is reminding the public that they can easily check their eyesight by taking the 20 metres test and is pointing out some ways to quickly identify 20 metres at the roadside. It is advising that 5 car lengths or 8 parking bays can be an easy way to measure the distance.
The campaign is encouraging anyone with concerns about their eyesight to visit their optician or optometrist for an eye test.
The number plate test is a simple and effective way for people to check their eyesight meets the required standards for driving. The easiest and quickest way to do this is to work out what 20 metres looks like at the roadside – this is typically about the length of 5 cars parked next to each other – and then test yourself on whether you can clearly read the number plate. It’s an easy check to perform any time of day at the roadside and takes just a couple of seconds.
Having good eyesight is essential for safe driving, so it’s really important for drivers to have regular eye tests. Eyesight can naturally deteriorate over time so anyone concerned about their eyesight should visit their optician – don’t wait for your next check-up.
Notes to editors
- DVLA’s national awareness campaign will run throughout the summer.
- 20 metres is around 26 steps for a man and around 33 for a woman.
- 22% of those surveyed by DVLA said that they would work out this distance using car or bus lengths, with a further 21% saying they would use paces or steps to measure this distance. Only around 5% said they would use a tape measure or other physical measurement to gauge the distance.
- The minimum eyesight standards for driving are published on GOV.UK.
- DVLA publishes its advice to medical professionals – including opticians and optometrists – to help them assess their patients’ fitness to drive at www.gov.uk/dvla/fitnesstodrive.
Driving eyesight rules
You must wear glasses or contact lenses every time you drive if you need them to meet the ‘standards of vision for driving’.
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 doesn’t include being short or long sighted or colour blind. You also don’t need to say if you’ve had surgery to correct short sightedness and can meet the eyesight standards.
Check if you need to tell DVLA about your eyesight problem by searching the A to Z of medical conditions that could affect your driving.
You could be prosecuted if you drive without meeting the standards of vision for driving.
Standards of vision for driving
You must be able to read (with glasses or contact lenses, if necessary) a car number plate made after 1 September 2001 from 20 metres.
You must also meet the minimum eyesight standard for driving by having a visual acuity of at least decimal 0.5 (6/12) measured on the Snellen scale(with glasses or contact lenses, if necessary) using both eyes together or, if you have sight in one eye only, in that eye.
You must also have an adequate field of vision – your optician can tell you about this and do a test.
Lorry & Bus Drivers
You must have a visual acuity at least 0.8 (6/7.5) measured on the Snellen scale in your best eye and at least 0.1 (6/60) on the Snellen scale in the other eye.
You can reach this standard using glasses with a corrective power not more than (+) 8 dioptres, or with contact lenses. There’s no specific limit for the corrective power of contact lenses.
You must have a horizontal visual field of at least 160 degrees, the extension should be at least 70 degrees left and right and 30 degrees up and down. No defects should be present within a radius of the central 30 degrees.
You must tell DVLA if you’ve got any problem with your eyesight that affects either eye.
You may still be able to renew your lorry or bus licence if you can’t meet these standards but held your licence before 1 January 1997.
The practical driving test eyesight test
At the start of your practical driving test you have to correctly read a number plate on a parked vehicle.
If you can’t, you’ll fail your driving test and the test won’t continue. DVLA will be told and your licence will be revoked.
When you reapply for your driving licence, DVLA will ask you to have an eyesight test with DVSA. This will be at a driving test centre. If you’re successful, you’ll still have to pass the DVSA standard eyesight test at your next practical driving test.