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Car driver eyesight

Is it time for an eye test?

Your eyesight was checked at the start of your practical driving test but have you had it checked since?

Eyesight problems are more common among older age groups, particularly at night when they can make it more difficult to see pedestrians and road signs or cope with the glare.

If you needed to wear glasses or contact lenses to read the number plate when you took your test, or have been prescribed glasses since, do you make sure that you wear them every time you drive?

Regular eyesight checks:

  • Help make sure you stay legal on the road
  • Can pick up any potential eyesight problems that can be dealt with if diagnosed soon enough.

Driver assistance

The legal bit
  • Section 96 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 creates the offence of driving with ‘uncorrected defective eyesight’.
  • It’s also an offence to refuse to submit to an eyesight test when requested to by the police.
  • You can be fined up to a maximum of £1,000, along with three points on your licence and possible disqualification.
  • You can be fined up to £1,000 if you don’t tell DVLA about any medical condition that affects your driving. If you’re involved in an accident, you may be prosecuted.
Contributory factors

When the police investigate an accident the report includes ‘contributory factors’ as determined by the investigating officer or advised by witnesses or the drivers  involved in the incident.

A single accident can have multiple contributory factors.

‘Uncorrected, defective eyesight' was reported as a contributory factor in only 0.2% of accidents.

The most common contributory factors (2011 data) are:

  • Failed to look properly   42% of all accidents
  • Failed to judge other person's path or speed 21%
  • Careless, reckless or in a hurry 16%
  • Poor turn or manoeuvre 14%
  • Loss of control 14%
  • Pedestrian failed to look properly 10%
  • Slippery road due to weather 8%
  • Travelling too fast for the conditions 7%
  • Following too close    7%
  • Sudden braking    7%
  • Exceeding speed limit   5%
  • Impaired by alcohol   5%
Fast track system

Before 2013 the police had no powers to immediately suspend a licence for a driver who fails an eyesight test but ignores advice not to drive.

But since February 2013 the police have been able to request urgent revocation of your licence when they believe you present a severe risk to the public.

  • On working days between 08:00 and 21:00 DVLA review cases immediately and notify the police by email if the licence has been revoked.
  • If you continue to drive after you’ve been banned, you’re committing a criminal offence and could be arrested and your vehicle seized.

16 February 2017