50,000 Drivers Have Their Licence Revoked

The Driving and Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA) has confirmed that 50,000 drivers have had their licence revoked in the last five years due to poor eyesight. One of the basic requirements of the practical driving test is being able to read a car registration number that 20 metersaway. However is appears many drivers are suffering from diminished poor vision which they are unable to rectify, as the DVLA stated that 42,519 car and motorcycle licences have been revoked or refused since 2012 because of the persons poor vision. In some of these cases this will have been down to medical conditions but more due to drivers failing roadside tests.

Statics were released following a Freedom of Information request by Optometry Today. The figures that were then confirmed by DVLA which also disclosed that 6,739 bus and lorry drivers has their licences taken away after failing an eyesight test within the last 5 years. It showed that group 1 car drivers and motorcyclist who has their licence revoked had increase from 6,960 in 2012 to 9,092 by 2016 which is a 30% increase. In group 2 HGV drivers there was a sharper rise, in 2012 893 lorry and bus drivers had their licence revoked, compared to 2016 where 1,298 has their licence revoked which is a 45% increase.

In response to the statics the DVLA stated “it is difficult to draw generalised conclusions around the increase in the number of drivers being called out on their poor vision, though minimum medical standards connected with driving were introduced in 2013.” They also told Optometry Today “‘The changes introduced more stringent standards in some cases but more relaxed standards in others so they were not expected to result either in a significant number of people losing or regaining their entitlement to hold a licence” The DVLA also advised that it is a drivers ongoing and legal duty to notify the agency of any medical conditions that may affect their ability to drive safely, including limitations concerning their vision.They suggested conducting the 20 meter number plate test on a regular basis and arranging eye tests when necessary.

The Associations of Optometrists insisted that motorist book an eye-sight test every two years to ensure that they meet the legal standard for driving. AOP clinical adviser Trevor Warburton told Optometry Today “‘In the UK, there is currently no requirement for drivers to have regular sight tests. We believe that compulsory vision screening for all motorists would help ensure that drivers’ vision meets the required standards, significantly reducing the risk of someone having an accident due to their poor vision.”

The insurance aggregator Confused.com agreed with Mr Warburton’s suggestion, siting its own previous research into the topic that 55% of drivers believe that it should be a legal requirement to have regular eye tests. Amanda Stretton from Confused.com stated “It’s easy to view eye testing as just another inconvenience and added expense to the rising cost of motoring, but substandard vision can have a significant impact on driving ability, if not treated. Without the correct prescription, motorists may have trouble judging distance, depth and could miss cars, cyclists and pedestrians in their wider field. They may also void their insurance policy if they do not notify their insurer of any conditions.”

The law requires that all licensed drivers to meet the following eyesight requirements (including drivers aided by prescribed glasses or contact lenses):

  • In good daylight, able to read the registration mark fixed to a vehicle registered under current standards
  • At a distance of 20 metres with letters and numbers 79 mm high by 50 mm wide on a car registered since 1 September 2001
  • At a distance of 20.5 metres with letters and numbers 79 mm high by 57 mm wide on a car registered before 1 September 2001
  • The visual acuity must be at least Snellen 6/12 with both eyes open or in the only eye if monocular
  • Any driver unable to meet these standards must not drive and must notify the DVLA, which will refuse or revoke a licence.

Higher standard of visual acuity – bus and lorry drivers. Group 2 bus and lorry drivers require a higher standard of visual acuity in addition:

  • A visual acuity (using corrective contact lenses where needed) of at least Snellen 6/7.5 (Snellen decimal 0.8) in the better eye and Snellen 6/60 (Snellen decimal 0.1) in the poorer eye
  • If glasses are worn to meet the minimum standards, they should have a corrective power not exceeding +8 dioptres in any meridian of either lens

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