UK police have been testing drivers’ eyesight: here’s why

Oct 08, 2018 in Eye Tests

Top of police car

Your eyesight can be a matter of life and death. And few situations depend on having good vision more than when driving a car. But here’s the problem: most people take their driving test when they’re younger and equipped with better eyesight. Decades later, they may not realise quite how bad their vision has become, especially if they ignore the NHS’s advice to have an eye test every two years.

That’s why police forces in parts of England are cracking down on drivers with poor vision – poor vision that could be putting lives at risk out on the roads. Motorists were faced with having their driving licenses revoked if they failed to read a number plate 20 metres away.

If you’re concerned that you could potentially fail this test, we advise you to book an eyesight test as soon as possible.

The initiative has received widespread support following a 2012 study by insurance firm RSA, which estimated that poor vision had caused 2,874 casualties over a 12-month period. Thames Valley, Hampshire and West Midlands police tested the eyesight of every motorist they stopped throughout September, to ensure they could read a number plate from the distance required by law.

But how can having regular eye tests help?

If you were to take a driving test today, you would have to prove you can read a number plate from a distance of 20 metres. In fact, the rules are quite specific: the minimum eyesight standard for driving is visual acuity of 0.5 Log MAR, or 6/12 on the Snellen scale. If you’re not sure what your visual acuity is, ask your optometrist.

It’s a mandatory part of the practical test, yet once you’ve obtained your driving licence and are free to cruise down the highways, it becomes your responsibility to inform the DVLA of any changes to your eyesight.

Yet research by the Association of Optometrists found that more than a third of optometrists saw patients who continued to drive despite being told their vision was below the legal standard.

At Leightons, our tests not only screen for problems with your eyesight but can also detect conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Having an eye exam regularly will ensure your vision is the best it can be, and that any corrections (such as glasses or contact lenses) keep you within safe and legal driving limits.

Book your eye test today

If you’ve recently experienced any changes to your vision or haven’t had an eye test within the past two years, then we can help. Pop into your nearest Leightons branch, book online or call our professional team on 0800 40 20 20.