Is Your Eyesight Road Safe?

We all remember having to take the 20 metres test when we were taking our driving test but would you pass the same test now?

The DVLA is encouraging drivers to regularly take the ‘number plate test’ as an easy and quick way of checking that their eyesight is good enough for driving. 20 metres is the minimum distance that drivers need to be able to read a number plate from in order to be legally safe driving.

20 metres is roughly the length of five cars parked next to each other. From this test, it is easy to rest if you can clearly read the number plate. This test, however, doesn’t show a true indication of your eye health and does not replace regular eye tests. If you have any concerns about your eyesight, it is best to book an appointment with your optician for an eye test.

The road safety company Brake has also been working alongside Vision Express to raise awareness of the dangers of driving with poor eye health. Their ‘Driving for Zero’ campaign calls for the DVLA to bring in stricter ways of testing drivers’ eyesight and for testing to be done on a regular basis.

Director of Campaigns for Brake welcomes the awareness from DVLA but thinks that more needs to be done to ensure safety. “Any campaign to remind drivers to check their eyesight is welcome, however, awareness raising falls far short of tackling the true problem of poor driver vision, where a change in legislation is clearly required.”

Jonathan Lawson, who is CEO at Vision Express, added his views, stating that the 20 metre rule is outdated and needs updating. “It is estimated that as many as 1.5m UK licence holders have never even had an eye test and road crashes caused by poor driver vision are estimated to cause 2,900 casualties.

“However, the ‘number plate test’ was introduced over 80 years ago before the Second World War and eye testing has advanced significantly since then.”

As per NHS recommendation, people should have a full eye test every two years, and more frequently if they feel their eyesight is deteriorating. Whether you feel your eyesight is poor or not, ensure that you book in for regular eye tests with a qualified optician or optometrist.


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