27 Mar 2017

Driving is probably the most complex and hazardous activity that many of us carry out on a daily basis. It’s easy to overlook an essential element that is crucial to be both safe and legal at the wheel.

The law states that you must meet a minimum standard of eyesight for driving – reading a number plate at 20m - and must wear your glasses or contact lenses if they are needed to meet that standard. However, the only time your vision is checked is during your driving test, and this is only to check distance vision, not peripheral awareness or contrast sensitivity. All these elements are crucial for safer driving.

It’s possible to lose up to 40% of your vision without noticing, so it’s vital to get your eyes regularly checked with a reputable optician. Ideally every 1 or 2 years, or as soon as you think there may be a problem.

If you have a condition (other than long or short sightedness and colour blindness) that affects both eyes then you must notify the DVLA. Failure to do this can result in a £1000 fine and may invalidate your insurance.

If you need to wear glasses for driving, why not invest in a spare pair for the car. In some countries this is actually a legal requirement. It will save you being caught out, and driving both dangerously and illegally. Driving while unable to meet legal visual standards is an offence that can result in 3 points on your license, possible disqualification and a £1000 fine. It jeopardises both your safety and the lives of other road users, and is just not worth the risk.

Making sure you are fit to drive is a responsibility that lasts your entire driving career. Along with an annual service and MOT test for your vehicle, book yourself an optician appointment too.

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