By Karen Hayes
In recent times, The Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) has implemented some changes to its rules concerning eyesight requirements for drivers. These changes aim to enhance road safety by ensuring that all drivers have adequate vision to operate a vehicle safely and Coulthursts recognises the importance of staying updated with such modifications to help our clients. Unfortunately, it is estimated by The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents that 2,900 casualties per year are caused by poor driver vision [July 2021 ROSPA data]. As such, this blog will highlight the key changes to the DVLA rules about eyesight and what they mean for drivers.
Revised Minimum Standards
The DVLA has introduced revised minimum eyesight standards which drivers must meet to obtain or renew their driving licenses. Previously, drivers were merely required to read a number plate from a distance of 20 metres during their driving test, but the updated standards place emphasis on visual acuity and field of vision in addition to distance. Drivers are now required to meet specific criteria for both these factors, ensuring their eyesight is adequate for safe driving.
Visual Acuity Requirements
Visual acuity refers to the clarity of vision, typically measured using the Snellen chart. This is the chart with various sized letters that opticians use to check your eyesight. The DVLA now mandates that drivers must be able to read a number plate from a distance of 20 metres (65 feet). This requirement applies to both new license applicants and those renewing their licenses. If a driver fails to meet this criterion, they may face license suspension or be required to undergo additional tests to prove their visual acuity.
Field of Vision Standards
The field of vision is the area that a person can see without moving their eyes and the DVLA has specified a minimum field of vision requirement for drivers. Generally, drivers must have a field of vision of at least 120 degrees horizontally and 20 degrees vertically. This standard ensures that drivers have adequate peripheral vision to be aware of their surroundings and potential hazards on the road.
Regular Eye Tests
To comply with the new DVLA rules, drivers are encouraged to have regular eye tests. An eye examination can identify any potential vision problems and enable early detection of conditions that may affect a driver’s ability to meet the minimum eyesight standards. If a driver’s eyesight deteriorates between license renewals, they are responsible for notifying the DVLA and their insurance provider.
Professional Opinions and Medical Reports
If a driver is concerned about their eyesight or has received medical advice suggesting their vision may not meet the required standards, it is crucial to seek professional opinions and medical reports. An optometrist or ophthalmologist can assess the driver’s eyesight and provide necessary documentation to support any discussions with the DVLA.
The DVLA’s recent changes to the rules on eyesight requirements for drivers demonstrate the agency’s commitment to road safety. As a driver, it is essential to stay informed about these changes and ensure that you meet the revised minimum eyesight standards. Regular eye tests and professional opinions play a significant role in maintaining your ability to driver legally and safely. If you have any concerns about your eyesight, consult with an eye care professional and seek guidance from the DVLA to ensure compliance with the latest regulations.
Personal injury claims which arise from eyesight issues can cause catastrophic outcomes for those involved. Remember, prioritising your vision means prioritising your safety and the safety of others on the road.