Driving eyesight rules set a minimum standard that your vision must meet. As such, according to the Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency, you must be able to read registration plates produced from September 1st 2001 from twenty metres. Furthermore, you must satisfy a minimum standard on the Snellen Scale which is a chart containing several rows of letters that decrease in size. You must also have an adequate field of vision which can be measured in degrees. These standards can be met either with the naked eye or while wearing glasses/contact lenses. The criteria stands whether you see with one or two eyes.
As such, Simon Elstow from The Institute of Advanced Motorists has the following advice:
“Get your eyes checked regularly by a qualified professional. (Some people are entitled to free NHS eyesight checks).
- If you are diagnosed with a condition which causes vision impairment, the law says you must inform the D.V.L.A. Failure to do so is a criminal offence.
- The law requires drivers to be able to read a car number plate from a distance of twenty metres – If you need glasses or contact lenses to do this they must be worn at all times when driving.”
Simon Elstow explained: “Your eyesight will inevitably change as you get older and usually not for the better. Since the majority of information gathered in order to make decisions while driving is through your eyes good vision is a necessity.” He continued: “The deterioration of our eyesight can go unnoticed, a fact which is especially problematic after about the age of forty. Poorer vision can pose an even greater risk during the winter months, with fewer hours of daylight and more challenging weather conditions. Now is the time to book yourself in for an eye test to ensure you’re as safe as you can be when driving your vehicle.”-
You can also improve visibility without an optical specialist. Step one is to ensure that your windscreen, rear window, and side windows are clean both inside and out. Check the lights too and ensure the wipers are both good quality and in excellent condition. Then - before setting-off – allow the car to de-steam if required. Switching-on the air-conditioning makes this faster as it is a dehumidifier. Once on the move, try not to look directly into oncoming headlights as these can be extremely dazzling. Try instead to focus on something less blinding such as a painted white line. Furthermore, treat yourself to a pair of sunglasses and ensure they are close to hand. Clip-on shades might suit better if you wear spectacles. Fatigue also make eyes less effective so take regular stops on long trips.