General Insurance Article - 134 drivers a week have licence revoked by poor eyesight

New analysis by Direct Line Motor Insurance reveals more than 134 drivers a week have their licence revoked by the DVLA because they can’t meet the minimum eyesight requirements to drive. In the period from January 2017 to September 2019, this amounts to a total of 19,644 drivers no longer able to get behind the wheel due to poor eyesight.

 It is not just experienced drivers that have issues with their eyesight either; on average 12 people a week fail their driving test before it even starts because they can’t read a clean number plate from a distance of 20 metres. The DVLA requires drivers to be able to read (with glasses or contact lenses if necessary) a car number plate from 20 metres, have accurate vision to at least decimal 0.5 (6/12) measured on the Snellen scale and an adequate field of vision. 

 With an estimated 8.9 million (21 per cent) of drivers admitting to not having their eyes tested in the last two years and 1.1 million (3 per cent) never having had their eyes tested at all, it is likely thousands of drivers are unaware they are not safe to be in charge of a vehicle because of poor vision. Drivers can be fined up to £1,000 if they don’t inform the DVLA about a medical condition that affects their driving and could be prosecuted if involved in a collision as a result. Eye care professionals believe there should be stricter rules regarding eye check-ups, with 81 per cent of optometrists supporting a change in law so annual eye tests are made mandatory for drivers.

 Almost one in four (24 per cent) drivers would put their own life and that of others at risk by waiting until their licence was revoked rather than giving up driving voluntarily because their eyesight had deteriorated so badly they couldn’t drive safely. People are also unwilling to report friends and family to the DVLA, allowing them to keep driving even if they thought they couldn’t see to drive safely. Only four per cent of people have reported a friend or family member to the DVLA over concerns that their eyesight was too bad to drive.

 Steve Barrett, head of motor insurance at Direct Line, commented:“If people do not have regular eye tests, they may not even realise their vision is impaired when they get behind the wheel, which leaves them a danger to themselves and other road users.

 “A simple eye test, that takes a moment in time, can ensure drivers have the appropriate corrective glasses or contact lenses so that their vision is adequate to drive.”

 Dr Nigel Best, clinical spokesperson for Specsavers said: “Our vision can deteriorate slowly, meaning it is sometimes difficult to detect a change ourselves but subtle variations can increasingly affect both perception and reaction time when driving. We welcome this research and hope it will make more road users aware of the risks they run by not having regular eye tests, whether it is potentially losing your driving license or worse, causing a collision on the road.

 “It takes around 25 minutes for an optician to conduct a thorough vision and eye health check. To take this simple step every two years or more, if recommended by your optician, isn’t an arduous task, particularly when you weigh up the potentially negative consequences of driving with impaired vision.”

 Regional findings

 Residents of Brighton are the least likely across the UK to regularly visit the optician, with a third (33 per cent) of people failing to have an eye test in the last two years. Residents of Birmingham (30 per cent), Glasgow (30 per cent) and Leeds (30 per cent) are also risking driving without the right corrective lenses because they have failed to have their eyes tested in the last two years.

 Table one: Regional insight into how recently residents have had an eye test 


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