You may have seen the recent report on the news, where some polices forces have decided to check the vision of every driver that they stop. Click here to read. They state that vision is a critical part of driving safety, something which I think we all know!
The DVLA Vision rules are very simple and straightforward, and they are:-
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.
These rules were developed nearly 100 years ago and really only the wording and units of measure have been brought up to date. They do not take into account modern traffic conditions, the speed and density of our roads is massively different form 25 years ago, let alone 100 years ago, and yet the rules have hardly changed.
The DVLA rely on the driving test examiner to check on the learner’s eyesight, and whilst the DVLA rules require the applicant to have an adequate field of view, the examiner has no way of testing this. If the learner hasn’t had the visual field tested at an optician (and there is no requirement to do so!) then that is that. However, if the learner has a defective visual field and doesn’t know it which can happen, then he or she is breaking the law because it is illegal to drive with defective vision. Sadly, the driver just won’t realise it.
From the moment that the driver has passed the test there are no requirements to have the vision checked at all. If someone passes their test at the age of 20, the next time that anything official will be invoked will be 50 (yes Fifty) years later. It is left totally unmonitored until the age of 70.
If you are wearing spectacles or contact lenses at the test, the driving licence does not mention this. So, someone could wear glasses to pass their test and then drive without them and no-one would be the wiser. You may say that no one would do that, it would be stupid and irresponsible. I totally agree, but it has happened, and when an accident has happened the Police had no idea that the driver should have been wearing a correction.
When you come to us to be tested, we obviously ensure that you meet the requirements. What is more disturbing is that we have no knowledge about the car coming towards us, and what about when we are crossing the road? It is something that needs serious consideration.I recommend that every driver has a test every two years or more frequently, and to ensure that you have your visual fields tested regularly as well. If you need spectacles for driving, it makes sense to keep them up to date and scratch free, to use good quality prescription sunglasses when needed to reduce glare, and also to carry a reserve pair in case of disaster.
For more information about driving and vision, don’t hesitate to contact us or drop in, we are always happy to help.
Mark Davis F.A.D.O.,F.F.D.O.