Message to drivers: if you have any concern your vision might be deteriorating, the news of a recent police crackdown should encourage you to book an eye test as soon as possible.
As the BBC reports, this September three police forces in England will be testing the vision of every driver they stop. They’ll be asked to read a number plate from 65ft (20m) away – if they fail, they’ll have their licences revoked immediately.
The forces cracking down on drivers with defective eyesight are Hampshire, West Midlands and Thames Valley. They say that data gained from the checks will enable a better understanding of the scale of the problem of poor driver vision.
Police officers are able to submit a request to the DVLA for an urgent revocation of a licence if they feel the driver poses a risk to other road users.
Currently, the only compulsory test of a driver’s vision takes place during the practical test, when learners are asked to read a number plate from 20m away. If their eyesight worsens once they’ve passed their test, it’s up them to tell the DVLA.
If a driver’s licence is revoked following the roadside test, the DVLA says the driver must provide proof that their vision meets the required standard upon re-application. If the evidence is accepted, the driver will have to undergo an additional test.
Sgt Rob Heard, representing the forces carrying out the checks, commented: “Not being able to see a hazard or react to a situation quickly enough can have catastrophic consequences.” He warned that officers will be testing drivers “at every opportunity.”
Driving eyesight rules
As Gov.UK states, drivers must wear glasses or contact lenses every time they’re behind the wheel if they need them to meet the ‘standards of vision for driving.’
You have to notify the DVLA if you’ve got a problem with your vision that affects your eyes, but that doesn’t include being colour blind or short- or long-sighted. Check if your health condition needs to be reported here.
What to do if your licence is revoked
A licence can be revoked for a number of medical reasons, not just poor vision. Here’s what happens if you have your licence taken away:
- You’ll have to apply for a new licence and pay fees
- The DVLA will issue a disqualification period, during which you’re unable to reapply for a licence
- You can re-apply eight weeks prior to the end of the disqualification period, and you may need to give evidence proving that you’re fit to drive. The DVLA letter will tell you if this is the case.
- If you don’t have a driving licence, this will typically mean that your insurance is invalid.
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