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Drivers’ Bad Eyesight Forces DVLA To Revoke Thousands Of Licences

Number of motorists forced off the road by bad sight, legal standards and eye issues that must be reported to DVLA

Group 1 licence

Tens of thousands of motorists had their licence revoked, or refused, due to poor eyesight from 2012 to 2016 - and most fell foul in the later years, The Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency confirmed. The Group 1 licence, for example, incorporates cars and motorbikes. The table below confirms how many were revoked/refused.

Group 1 Licence
20122013201420152016
6,9608,3439,0749,0509,092

Group 1 Licence

Drivers must meet minimum eyesight requirements so they can see hazards clearly. These standards – that can be met while wearing spectacles or contact lenses – include being able to read a registration plate that is secured to a vehicle. The terms include:

For vehicles first registered on/after September 1st 2001, motorists must be able to read its 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, motorists must be able to read its plates from 20.5 metres in good light (letters and numbers to be 79mm tall and 57mm wide)

Further requirements relate to field of vision which is the width motorists see. At least 120 degrees is required. There are acuity requirements, too. The Snellen Chart tests performance (chart opticians have on the wall which incorporates letters and numbers).

Group 2 licence

The Group 2 bus and lorry licence requires motorists to have superior vision. The Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency also revoked or refused thousands of such licences from 2012 to 2016. See below.

Group 2 Licence
20122013201420152016
8932,1121,3061,1301,298

Optical specialist calls for compulsory sight tests

An Association of Optometrists Clinical Advisor, Trevor Warburton, claimed that motorists should be forced to ensure – rather than assume – that their sight meets minimum, legal, standards. He said:

“In the United Kingdom, there is currently no requirement for drivers to have regular sight tests. We believe that compulsory vision screening for motorists would help ensure that drivers’ vision meets the required standards. This would reduce the chance of someone having an accident due to their poor vision”, he argued.

Eyesight and the law

Motorists can be prosecuted if their vision is below par. Driving with uncorrected, defective, sight or refusing to submit to a test leads to 3 penalty points, for starters. Further, they must inform the Agency if they have certain medical issues. Highlights include:

Sight in a single eye

  • Glaucoma (damaged optic nerve)
  • Cataracts (poor lens transparency)
  • Tunnel vision (narrow view)
  • Diplopia (double vision)
  • Nyctalopia (tricky to see in low light)

It would be more informative to know how many incidents were caused by bad eyesight. Statistics on revoked licences is more of an indicator of how well the system is working in removing visually impaired drivers - But even then you need to know how many were based on driver supplied information to know if the system is working or not As for the opinion of the Association of Optometrists - not in anyway biased of course!

I agree with a mandatory periodical eye test for the UK driving license. It is wrong to presume that it is all older drivers whose eyesight fails, far from it, drivers of all ages have impaired vision which makes them a danger behind a wheel. The frequency of testing should be adjudged on factual evidence and research, possibly varying on the frequency as age increases. How many times do we hear a driver proclaim after an accident, "I didn't see him/her", possibly they did not, due to impaired vision. Other countries have mandatory eye tests, why should we not?

I think that eye testing should be compulsory for motorists on a yearly basis, and if they fail to do so have it flag up like no not for example. There is one problem that I have found that is affecting quite a few drivers now days is head lights and break lights. On most new cars and especially on SUB’s they are incredibly bright and can cause eye damage. The ultra bright lights damage the back of the eyes and make them very sensitive, this can be overcome by using polarised lenses or dark yellow tints. Just a kind word to all SUV drivers, please think about the poor car driver in front or behind you when you are sitting so high that your lights are level with most drivers eyes. We have to use the roads and have no idea what is ahead of you when you are in front, and when you are stoped at lights take your foot off the break and use the hand break or parking break.and when you are behind us , please keep a distance from the back of our cars. We have rear view door mirrors that become blinding, just like looking into your lights directly, so a little gap and thought could help everyone.