The DVLA is calling on drivers to take a simple number plate test to check they meet the minimum legal eyesight standards at all times when driving.
In a campaign launched, the organisation is encouraging anyone with concerns about their eyesight to check if they can read a number plate from 20m – part of the mandatory test first developed 80 years ago. The DVLA also wants drivers to visit their optician or optometrist for an eye test if they are worried about their vision.
Wyn Parry, the DVLA’s senior doctor, said: “The number plate test is a simple and effective way for people to check their eyesight meets the standards for driving. The easiest and quickest way to do this is to work out what 20m looks like at the roadside – this is typically about the length of five cars parked next to each other – and then test yourself on whether or not you can clearly read the number plate.
“It’s an easy check to perform any time of the day at the roadside and takes a couple of seconds.” A survey carried out by Vision Express in 2016 found that 59% of people think reading a number plate is an outdated and ineffective way to check sight, while 75% want a recent eye test to be mandatory when renewing a driving licence.
A total of 92% believe they meet the legal eyesight requirement for driving – yet more than 60% cannot identify what that actually is. It is estimated that 1.5 million UK licence holders have never had an eye test, and road crashes caused by poor driver vision cause around 2,900 casualties per year.