Articles Tagged ‘sharp - Brake the road safety charity’

Brake concerned about suggestion of raising licence renewal age

3 March 2014

Brake, the road safety charity

In response to reports the Department for Transport may consider increasing the age at which drivers must renew their licence from 70 to 80, Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, said:

"It is concerning the Department for Transport is considering raising the age for licence renewal: regulation that's in place for good reason. At this age, conditions that can significantly impair your ability to drive safely become much more common, so it's essential we have robust procedures to ensure older drivers are not inadvertently putting themselves and others in grave danger. Licence renewal prompts older drivers to check and self-certify they are fit to drive. Brake is calling on government to strengthen fitness to drive regulation to help prevent needless tragedies, such as through compulsory eyesight testing throughout your driving career and health checks for older drivers. Brake recommends older drivers visit their GP and have sight and hearing tests at least annually – or sooner if they notice a problem – to ensure they are fit enough to continue driving and not unwillingly putting lives on the line when they get behind the wheel."

Read about Brake's Sharpen up campaign to ensure all drivers' eyesight is safe to drive.

Brake is an independent road safety charity. Brake exists to stop the five deaths and 63 serious injuries that happen on UK roads every day and to care for families bereaved and seriously injured in road crashes. Brake runs awareness-raising campaigns, community education programmes, events such as Road Safety Week (17-23 November 2014), and a Fleet Safety Forum, providing advice to companies. Brake's support division cares for road crash victims through a helpline and other services.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

Brake joins forces with police to rid roads of defective driver vision

News from Brake
Monday 3 September 2018
Road safety charity Brake is teaming up with police forces in Thames Valley, Hampshire and West Midlands to run a month-long campaign on driver vision, revoking the licenses of those who don’t pass the 20m number plate check. Throughout September, anyone stopped by Road Policing Officers in these areas will be required to take the 20m number plate test, with those who fail having their licence immediately revoked. Data will be collected from each test and will be used to gain an improved understanding of the extent of poor driver eyesight on our roads, which is thought to be vastly underreported in Government statistics.
This activity is part of a wider campaign to encourage the public and the Government to take driver vision seriously. An estimated 1.5m UK licence holders have never had an eye test and crashes involving a driver with defective eyesight are thought to cause 2,900 casualties every year on the UK’s roads. However, the UK’s driver vision testing remains inadequate and antiquated, requiring only a 20m number plate check when taking your driving test and nothing else for the rest of your driving life – one of only five EU countries to have such low standards.
Brake, alongside Vision Express, is urging the Government to tighten up UK driver vision laws and make eyesight testing compulsory before the driving test and each time a driver renews their photocard license.
Commenting on the launch of the campaign, Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake, said:
“It stands to reason that good eyesight is fundamental to safe driving, yet our current licensing system does not do enough to protect us from drivers with poor vision. It is frankly madness that there is no mandatory requirement on drivers to have an eye test throughout the course of their driving life, other than the disproven 20m number plate test when taking the driving test. Only by introducing rigorous and professional eye tests can we fully tackle the problem of unsafe drivers on our roads.”
“Partnering with the police on this campaign will help us understand the extent of poor driver vision in the UK, an issue where good data is lacking. This is the first-step on the road to ensuring that good eyesight is a given on UK roads – the public shouldn’t expect anything less.”
Sergeant Rob Heard, representing the police forces taking part in the campaign, said:
“All of us require good vision to drive safely on our roads - not being able to see a hazard or react to a situation quickly enough can have catastrophic consequences. The legal limit is being able to read a number plate at 20m, around 5 car lengths, however this is a minimum requirement and a regular eyesight test with an optician is a must if we are going to be safe on the road.”
“Since 2013, the Police have a new procedure – Cassie’s Law - to fast track notification to the DVLA should they find someone who cannot read a number plate at 20m in daylight conditions. Offending motorists will within an hour have their licence revoked and face prosecution. During September, we will be carrying out 20m number plate checks at every opportunity and those who fail will have their licences revoked. I hope we do not find anyone and everyone makes sure they are safe to read the road ahead.”
Jonathan Lawson, chief executive of Vision Express said:
“We believe official Government statistics on the impact of poor sight on road safety are the tip of the iceberg and we know the public feel the same as we do about tackling poor driver vision. A recent survey commissioned by Vision Express showed that 75% want a recent eye test to be mandatory when renewing a driving licence.”
“We fully support Brake in spearheading initiatives that encourage motorists to consider if their vision is fit to drive before they get behind the wheel. A vehicle driven by someone with substandard vision is a lethal weapon, it’s as simple as that. Deaths are occurring because some motorists are wilfully neglecting to get an eye test, putting lives in danger. That has to stop and we’re committed to working with Brake, the police and road safety organisations to put pressure on the Government to take action.”
Notes to editors:
  • You must be able to read (with glasses or contact lenses, if necessary) a car number plate made after 1 September 2001 from 20 metres.
  • You must also meet the minimum eyesight standard for driving by having a visual acuity of at least decimal 0.5 (6/12) measured on the Snellen scale (with glasses or contact lenses, if necessary) using both eyes together or, if you have sight in one eye only, in that eye.
  • You must also have an adequate field of vision - your optician can tell you about this and do a test.

Cassie’s Law

  • The test must be conducted in good daylight with glasses or corrective lenses (if required), however if the individual was not wearing glasses or lenses at the time of the incident (even if they are normally needed) then the test should be carried out without the glasses or corrective lenses.
  • Brake survey– more than 1.5 million UK drivers (4%) have never had their eyes tested
  • RSA Insurance report – study estimating that poor vision causes 2,874 casualties a year
  • ECOO report – Cyprus, France, the Netherlands, Norway, UK only European countries with number plate self-test
  • Vision Express poll - 75% want a recent eye test to be mandatory when renewing a driving licence

Driver advice: eyesight and health


Drivers can pledge to – get their eyes tested at least every two years, or straight away if they notice a problem, and wear glasses or lenses at the wheel if they need them. They can pledge to never drive on medication that affects driving.

Everyone can pledge to – look out for friends and loved ones by ensuring they only drive if they're fit for it.

If you drive, it’s probably the most complex and dangerous tasks that you’ll do on a regular basis, so it is vital your eyesight and general health is up to the task. Poor vision, ill health, some medications or stress can significantly affect your ability to drive safely, putting lives at risk.

Learn more:Try out Brake’s 'Sharpen up' interactive resource, sponsored by Specsavers, to see the importance of regular eye tests for drivers.

Sharpen up: driver eyesight

eyesight1Your eyesight can deteriorate significantly without you realising it – it’s possible to lose 40% of your vision before noticing [1]. That’s why it’s vital for drivers to get their eyes tested with an optician at least every two years, or straight away if you think there might be a problem. You must also notify the DVLA of any conditions that affect both eyes.

The law says you must be able to read a number plate from 20 metres to drive, so you have a responsibility to make sure this is the case. However, the ‘number plate test’ only checks your visual acuity (vision over distance), and not your visual field or contrast sensitivity – both important for safe driving – so it should never be used as a substitute for a professional test.

If you need glasses or lenses, don’t drive without them. In the UK, doing so is punishable by a fine of up to £1,000 and a driving ban. If you are prone to forget, keep a spare pair of glasses in your vehicle just in case.

Your health

It is your responsibility to notify the DVLA if you develop a condition that could impair your driving. Failure to do so can result in a fine and driving ban or prosecution if you cause a crash. If you suspect you have developed a condition, seek medical advice immediately. Check the DVLA’s guidance on health conditions and driving for advice.

Brake advises that older drivers get at least annual health checks, and ask the doctor’s advice on their fitness to drive. As an alternative to driving, older people are entitled to free off-peak bus travel across the UK.


NotADrop-PillsIt is an offence to drive, or attempt to drive, while unfit through medication. If you are taking medication, check the label or information leaflet to see if it could affect your driving. If the label warns that your driving could be affected, or it could make you drowsy, or not to drive if you feel drowsy, err on the side of caution and don’t drive: it is impossible to accurately gauge yourself if you’re impaired. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you are unsure.

Never drive if the label or a health professional recommends that you don't, or says you could be affected, or if you feel drowsy or slow.

If your medication affects your driving, stop driving, not your medication – make arrangements for alternative transport, or if you need to drive seek an alternative medication. In some cases, stopping your medication could pose additional risks, including while driving.

Natalie’s story

Natalie Wade, 28, from Rochford, Essex, was killed by a partially sighted driver in February 2006. She was knocked down on a pedestrian crossing, along with her mother, Christine Gutberlet, by 78 year old John Thorpe. Christine survived, but Natalie suffered severe brain damage from which she died in intensive care on Valentine's Day. The bride-to-be was shopping for her wedding dress when she was hit.

Driver John Thorpe was blind in one eye and had 40 defects in the other, but had not declared his sight problems to the DVLA. He died of natural causes before his trial could be completed. The inquest returned a verdict of unlawful killing. Natalie's aunt, Revd Brenda Gutberlet, said: “Natalie's death, like so many on our roads, was completely avoidable. The question every driver should ask before they get behind the wheel is: am I fit to drive today? But not everyone is honest with themselves. To get behind the wheel of a vehicle unable to see shows a disregard for the lives of others, and it can't be right that we still allow drivers to do so."

[1] World Glaucoma Day, International Glaucoma Association and Royal National Institute for the Blind, 2009

[2] The contribution of individual factors to driving behaviour: implications for managing work-related road safety, Health and Safety Authority, 2002

Page updated June 2015

Driver advice: fatigue


Drivers can pledge to – take regular breaks and never drive tired.

Everyone can pledge to – look out for friends and loved ones by ensuring they only drive if they're fit for it.

WakeUp-TirednessKillsDriving tired is lethal. Research found that a quarter of all crashes on British roads involving death or serious injury were sleep-related [1]. Nodding off at the wheel, even for a few seconds, can result in catastrophic crashes, because you don’t brake before impact. And you don’t have to actually fall asleep to put yourself and others at risk: tiredness increases reaction times and affects your ability to pay attention. But there are some simple steps all drivers can take to avoid fatigue.

Plan ahead

tired1Consider whether you need to drive. Public transport is often a better option for long journeys, and is likely to mean you arrive feeling more rested and refreshed than if you’ve been driving for hours – see our advice page and factsheets on sustainable travel.

If you have to drive, plan ahead so you are well-rested beforehand and never embark on a journey when you’re already feeling tired. If you know you have to drive the next day, especially a longer journey, make sure you get a good night’s sleep. The less sleep you get, the less chance you have of staying awake. When planning a long journey, allow time for regular breaks – at least 15 minutes at least every two hours – although you need to stop as soon as possible if you start to feel tired (see below).

If you’re driving somewhere relatively far away and coming back again, book an overnight stay in the middle if you can and ensure you’re well rested before heading home.

Avoid driving at times of day when you’re most susceptible to tiredness, like at night, in the evening after a long day, or in the mid-afternoon, when most people experience a ‘dip’.

If you drive for work

Insist on having time in your schedule for regular break periods to rest – 15 minutes every two hours is safest – and look at whether there are alternatives to driving, such as video conferencing or taking public transport to appointments.

If you drive a truck or bus, be aware of legislation covering the hours you are allowed to drive, and make sure you take the required rest breaks. Even if you fall behind schedule or get caught in traffic, always take your breaks. Safety comes before deadlines. Your employer should have a policy on driver tiredness that complies with health and safety laws and makes clear that safety is the priority. When you’re driving on company time, you and your employer have responsibility for making sure you’re not endangering yourself and others.

Brake advises companies on preventing fatigue and other issues to do with at-work road safety. Find out more at    

If you feel tired

If you’re feeling tired at the wheel, you need to listen to the warning signs straight away and pull over somewhere safe as soon as you possibly can. Do not fool yourself that you can fight off sleep – it ensues much faster than you might think. Winding down the window or turning up your music does not help you to stay awake. If you ever head nod, you have already been asleep briefly, although you may not remember it, and these ‘microsleeps’ are enough to cause a devastating crash.

tired2Hence if you feel tired while driving, it’s vital to pull up somewhere safe and have a nap. Having a caffeinated drink (an energy drink is better than coffee as it’s a more reliable source of a reasonable dose of caffeine) followed by a 15 minute nap can help to temporarily stave off tiredness, but bear in mind this is only a temporary aid.

If you are still feeling tired after your nap, or you still have a long way to go, you need to stop and get a proper night’s sleep, which is the only solution to tiredness. Whatever you do, only continue your journey when you’re feeling fully refreshed.

Sleep apnoea

Sleep apnoea is a relatively common, but often undiagnosed condition that puts sufferers at great risk of tiredness crashes. Sufferers briefly stop breathing repeatedly while they are asleep. While the sleeper may not realise it, this interrupts their sleep and results in daytime sleepiness, which can result in falling asleep at the wheel. Signs of sleep apnoea include loud snoring, disturbed sleep, regularly waking up coughing, fighting for breath during sleep, and falling asleep in the daytime. The highest-risk group for sleep apnoea are overweight middle-aged men, although it can affect other groups too.

See our fact page on sleep apnoea. If you think there is a chance you have sleep apnoea, seek medical advice. Sleep apnoea is treatable, and if left untreated can increase the risk of high blood pressure, stroke and heart attacks, as well as driver fatigue crashes. The sooner you see a doctor, the better

[1] Sleep-Related Crashes on Sections of Different Road Types in the UK (1995–2001), Department for Transport, 2004

Page updated June 2015

Driver eyesight


Key facts

  • More than two million people in the UK suffer from sight loss [1];
  • Poor eyesight contributed to 196 road crashes in 2018, including three fatal crashes [2];
  • In 2019, 4,534 driving licences were revoked due to impaired vision [3];


Good eyesight is one of the most basic requirements of safe driving. Drivers need to be able to clearly see road signs and pedestrians as well as other vehicles. It’s also important that they can accurately judge speed, distance and movement. If a driver’s eyesight is impaired, it is much more likely that they will be involved in a road crash.

Poor vision increases a driver’s crash risk by limiting their ability to recognise hazards, and increasing their reaction times [4]. More than two million people in the UK are estimated to be living with sight loss severe enough to affect their everyday lives [5]. By 2050, this number will double. In 2018, uncorrected or defective eyesight contributed to 196 crashes; 25% of these (53) led to serious injuries and three resulted in death [6].

However, it is often hard to tell if impaired vision was responsible for a crash. Some casualties probably happen because drivers do not know they have a vision problem, or have not reported it to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). This means poor vision is likely be massively underreported in government crash causation data.

Untreated eye conditions can occur gradually over time. Some of the most common conditions people may develop include long-sightedness or short-sightedness, but there are others, such as cataracts, macular degeneration and glaucoma, that can also impair their ability to perceive the road [7].

Legal framework

In the UK, drivers need to be able to read a modern car number plate from 20 metres away [8]. Drivers must inform the DVLA if their vision (with glasses or contact lenses if needed) is below 6/12 (0.5) on the Snellen scale, or their visual field is less than 1200, or they suffer from certain medical conditions [9].

Lorry and bus drivers are required to meet higher vision standards. They must have vision of at least 6/7.5 (0.8) in their best eye and at least 6/60 (0.1) in the other eye. If they require glasses or contact lenses, their corrective power must be no more than (+) 8 dioptres. Lorry and bus drivers must have a horizontal field of at least 70o left and right, and 30o up and down, with no visual defects within the central 30o [10].

Determining eyesight through the ‘number plate’ test is one aspect of the practical driving test, and may be conducted by the police at the roadside if they suspect an eyesight problem. This test is not required at any other time than these, so following the driving test, a driver may never be required to show any authority any evidence that their eyesight is acceptable for driving. Drivers older than 70 have to declare that their eyesight meets minimum standards when renewing their licence, but do not need to provide any evidence to the DVLA to prove this is so [11].

If the DVLA believes a driver may cause danger to the public because of their poor vision, their licence may be refused or revoked [12]. In 2019, 4,534 driving licences were revoked due to drivers having impaired vision [13].

Driver eyesight testing is not automatically carried out by police at the scene of a fatal or serious crash, although guidelines state that eye health should be ‘considered’ by the investigating officer [14]. Furthermore, it is not possible to test driver eyesight if a driver is dead or being treated for serious injuries, making it difficult to determine whether poor vision is a contributory factor in many cases. Even if the number plate test is carried out, its capability for assessing driver vision is limited. It only tests an individual’s vision over distance (visual acuity), and is not even a fully accurate and reliable evidence of that. The driving test does not assess visual field or sensitivity to contrast or glare, which can also have a significant impact on driver performance [15].

Police can urgently request that a driver’s licence be revoked if they believe the driver puts other road users at risk.

Brake is campaigning for the law on driver vision to be strengthened, to require drivers to prove to the DVLA they have had a recent, professional vision test when they take their driving test and be required to have regular tests during their driving life on a regular basis thereafter, and to prove their vision has recently been “passed to drive” through a vision test every 10 years when renewing their licence photocard.

Support Brake’s campaign for regular vision tests for all drivers and sign our Pledge to get your eyesight tested if you drive.

Eye testing

Experts recommend having a professional eye test at least every two years, or straight away if a problem arises [16].

A professional eye test checks vision over distance, as well as other visual defects, including problems seeing things in the central or peripheral vision. Visual field defects can be caused by illnesses such as glaucoma, retinal disease or cataracts.

Drivers with visual field defects experience twice as many road crashes and traffic violations compared to drivers with a full visual field, and almost half people with visual field loss are unaware of the problem [17]. But despite this, many drivers do not get their eyes tested regularly, or even at all.

A Brake survey in 2014 found one in four (25%) UK drivers hadn’t had a vision test in the past two years, and 4% (the equivalent of more than 1.5 million licence holders at the time [18]) had never had their eyes tested [19]. In a separate study by the College of Optometrists, one in 20 people aged above 40 said they had not been for a sight test for at least 10 years or could not recall when they last went [20].

There is evidence people do not get their eyes checked enough. A Brake survey found one in four (25%) UK drivers haven’t had a vision test in the past two years, and 4% (the equivalent of more than 1.5 million licence holders [17]) have never had their eyes tested [18]. In a separate study by the College of Optometrists, one in 20 people aged above 40 said they had not been for a sight test for at least 10 years or could not recall when they last went [19].

Going to the optician needn’t be expensive and may be free:

  • Eye sight tests are free in the UK if you are under 16, over 60, claiming certain benefits, or if you have certain medical conditions [21];
  • In Scotland, eyesight tests are free for everyone [22];
  • Employers who require their workers to regularly use computer screens for significant periods are obliged to pay for their eye tests on request, under the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 [23]
  • Employees who drive for work may also have arrangements in place with their employers for free or discounted eye tests.

For those who are not entitled to free tests, many high street opticians run promotions offering free or cheap tests.

Vision problems

Vision problems are common. It has been estimated that almost three quarters (74%) of the UK population either use glasses or contact lenses, or have had laser eye surgery to correct their vision [24]. Long- or short-sightedness are common conditions affecting eyesight in the UK, and can affect anyone at any age [25] [26].

Several health conditions can cause serious and sometimes permanent damage to eyesight. These conditions are more common in people aged over 50, but can affect younger people too.

Some of the most common conditions are listed below:

Cataract:This is when a clouding develops in the lens of the eye. Depending on its severity it can cause glare, short sightedness, double vision, and in severe cases, blindness. Cataracts are very common in older people: more than half of people aged 65 and over have some cataract development [27]. Often it is safe to drive with contacts and it is not a legal requirement to inform the DVLA if the driver meets the minimum standards for driving [28].

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD): A disease resulting in damage to the retina, causing loss of the centre of your vision. It can occur in one or both eyes. It is often possible to slow down AMD with medical treatment, so it is vital to have frequent eye tests to catch this disease in the early stages. AMD is the most common cause of poor sight in people over 60 [29].

Glaucoma: A condition that damages the optic nerve and causes complete blindness if left untreated. The most common form is chronic glaucoma, which develops slowly and painlessly, so the sufferer will not usually notice there is a problem until vision is significantly impaired. It is therefore vital to have frequent eye tests to catch this disease in the early stages. Acute glaucoma, where the condition comes on suddenly and painfully, leading sufferers to seek immediate treatment, is much less common. Glaucoma causes permanent damage, but if treated early enough, vision loss can be kept to a minimum. Glaucoma is very uncommon in people under 40 but becomes more common with increasing age [30]. Drivers with glaucoma must notify the DVLA and inform them of their condition.

Double vision (diplopia): A variety of underlying causes or conditions can cause a person to see two images of a single object either some or all of the time. It is usually possible to cure this condition with treatments ranging from eye exercises to surgery [32]. Drivers who develop diplopia must not drive and must immediately inform the DVLA [33].

Other health conditions and factors can affect eyesight, including [34]:

  • Diabetes: Sufferers are at higher risk of eyesight problems and in some cases it can lead to blindness, this should be reported to the DVLA;
  • Heart disease: Can lead to loss of vision, visual field defects, or double vision, drivers with these symptoms should inform the DVLA and avoid driving where possible;
  • Migraines: Can cause vision disturbances, including partial loss of vision, double vision, blurriness and seeing flashing lights;
  • Tiredness and some medication:These can cause eyesight to become blurred or otherwise poor; and
  • Ageing: Vision begins to deteriorate more rapidly at approximately 50 years of age, particularly night-time vision. [35]

Learn more: Visit the DVLA website for a full list of medical conditions that must be reported. 

End notes

[1] Pezzullo L. et al (2018), The economic impact of sight loss and blindness in the UK adult population, BMC Health Services Research, 18(63)

[2] DfT (2019), Reported Road Casualties Great Britain: 2018, Table RAS50001

[3] DVLA (2019), figures released to

[4] Road Safety Observatory (2013), Eyesight and driving

[5] Pezzullo L. et al (2018), The economic impact of sight loss and blindness in the UK adult population, BMC Health Services Research, 18(63)

[6] DfT (2019), Reported road casualties in Great Britain, annual report: 2018, table RAS50001

[7] DVLA (2016, Assessment of fitness to drive: a guide for medical professionals

[8] Road Traffic Act (1988),

[9] DVLA (2016), Driving eyesight rules

[10] Ibid

[11] Hansard (2011), Eyesight testing: parliamentary debate

[12] DVLA, Medical conditions, disabilities and driving

[13] DVLA (2019), figures released to

[14] National Policing Improvement Agency (2007), Road Death Investigation Manual

[15] PACTS (2016), Fit to Drive

[16] NHS (2014), Vision and Hearing

[17] Archives of Ophthalmology (1983), Incidence of visual field loss in 20,000 eyes and its relationship to driving performance

[18] DfT (2016), Driving licence holding and vehicle availability

[19] Brake & Specsavers & RSA (2014), Driver eyesight survey

[20] College of Optometrists (2013), Britain’s eye health in focus

[21] NHS Choices (2016), Am I entitled to a free NHS eye test?

[22] Scottish Government, Your guide to free NHS eye examinations in Scotland

[23] Health and Safety Executive (2013), Working with display screen equipment

[24] College of Optometrists (2013), Britain’s eye health in focus

[25] NHS Choices (2015), Short sightedness (myopia)

[26] NHS Choices, 2016, Long sightedness

[27] NHS (2019), Age-related Cataracts

[28] DVLA (2016), Assessment of fitness to drive: a guide for medical professionals 

[29] NHS (2018), Age-Related Macular Degeneration

[30] NHS (2018), Glaucoma

[31] DVLA (2016), Assessment of fitness to drive: a guide for medical professionals

[32] NHS Choices (2014), Double vision

[33] DVLA (2016), Assessment of fitness to drive: a guide for medical professionals

[34] Ibid

[35] The Older drivers’ task-force (2016), Supporting safe driving into old age: a national older driver strategy

Page last updated: March 2020

DVLA eyesight awareness campaign not enough to tackle issue of poor driver vision

News from Brake
Monday 23 July 2018
The DVLA has today launched a new national eyesight awareness campaign reminding drivers of the need to regularly check their eyesight. All drivers must, by law, meet the minimum eyesight standards at all times when driving - including being able to read a number plate from 20 metres.

Brake, the road safety charity, has been working with Vision Express through the ‘Driving for Zero’ campaign, to raise awareness of the dangers of poor eye health and to call for more to be done to tackle the issue of defective driver vision.
Commenting, Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake, said:
“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. Brake is calling for the law to be strengthened, to require drivers to prove to the DVLA they have had a recent, professional vision test when they take their driving test; and be required to have regular tests during their driving life on a regular basis. It should be obvious to all that the ability to see clearly is fundamental to safe driving and so we urge the Government to act to address the shortfall in the law and introduce mandatory eye tests for drivers now.”
“At present, driver eyesight is only checked through a 20-metre license plate reading before the driving test, after which a driver may never again be required to prove that their vision is fit for driving. With eye specialists stating that the 20-metre test is inadequate in assessing driver vision, and research showing someone can lose up to 40% of their vision without being aware, it is time for mandatory eye testing to be introduced.”
Commenting,Jonathan Lawson, CEO at Vision Express said:
"It's a positive first step to see the DVLA is spearheading a public awareness campaign to encourage drivers to take their eye health seriously - something Vision Express has been campaigning for. 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. The NHS recommends people should have an eye test every two years, so we would encourage the DVLA to remind drivers that whilst passing the number plate might be the legal limit, the Government's own advice is to have a full eye health check with a qualified optometrist." 
Notes to editors:
About Brake
Brake is a national road safety and sustainable transport charity, founded in 1995, that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies.
We do this through national campaignscommunity educationservices for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.
Follow Brake on TwitterFacebook, or The Brake Blog.
Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

Make the Brake Pledge

Brake's vision is a world where people can get around in ways that are safe, green, healthy and fair. 

To help us get there, everyone can sign our Pledge, whether you are a driver or not. The Pledge calls for people to do everything they can to protect themselves and the people around them. Scroll down to read the Pledge and make the Pledge at the bottom of this page.



Drivers – I'll stay under limits, and slow down to 20mph where people live, work and play. I'll slow down on rural roads to protect people on foot, bicycles, motorcycles and horses as well as in other vehicles. I will avoid overtaking and take care to look twice at junctions. I will drive even more slowly in bad weather.
Everyone – I'll speak out for slowing down and help drivers understand that the slower they drive, the more chance they have of avoiding a crash and saving a life.


Drivers – I'll never drive after drinking any alcohol or drugs – not a drop, not a drag.
Everyone - I'll plan ahead to make sure I, and anyone I'm with, can get home safely and I'll never get a lift with drink/drug drivers. I'll speak out if someone's about to drive on drink or drugs.


Drivers – I'll make sure everyone in my vehicle is belted up on every journey, and kids smaller than 150cm are in a proper child restraint. I'll choose the safest vehicle I can and ensure it's maintained.
Everyone – I'll belt up on every journey, and make sure friends and family do too.


Drivers – I'll never take or make calls, read or type when driving. I'll put communication devices out of reach, and stay focused.
Everyone – I'll never chat on the phone to someone else who's driving.


Drivers – I'll stay focussed on safe driving. I'll take regular breaks and never drive if I'm tired, stressed or on medication that affects driving. I'll get my eyes tested every two years and wear glasses or lenses at the wheel if I need them.
Everyone – I'll look out for friends and loved ones by ensuring they only drive if they're fit for it, and rest if they're tired.


Everyone – I'll minimise the amount I drive, or not drive at all. I'll get about by walking, cycling or public transport as much as I can, for road safety, the environment and my health.

Make your pledge

Fill out my online form.


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Sharpen up

CAMSlider grey sharpenupHaving good eyesight is essential to safe driving. Yet some drivers fail to get their eyes tested regularly, some going years or even decades without checking their vision is up to scratch. Others put themselves and others in danger by driving without their glasses or lenses. Poor vision is estimated to cause 2,900 road casualties every year.

Currently, drivers of cars, vans and motorbikes are only required to have their eyesight checked once, when they take their driving test, by reading a number-plate – a method that doesn't accurately measure vision over distance, and fails to check peripheral vision or other vision problems. Beyond this, when they hit age 70, drivers must simply declare their vision meets legal requirements. We believe this is grossly inadequate.

Get the facts on driver eyesight.

What needs to be done?

Drivers can help make our roads safer by getting their eyes tested at least every two years, even if they think their vision is perfect, or straight away if they notice a problem. Vision can deteriorate quickly, sometimes without you noticing, so regular tests are crucial, and can help detect longer-term conditions before they get worse. If you need glasses or lenses, always wear them at the wheel.

We're calling on government to make it compulsory for drivers to have a professional eye test at the start of their driving career, and at least every 10 years thereafter, when renewing their photocard licence. This simple requirement would help prevent casualties and save the public purse at least £6.7 million annually. It would benefit drivers too, ensuring eye conditions are detected and treated early.

At the same time, government should raise driver awareness of the importance of getting tested at least every two years, such as by providing reminders in documentation about renewing your tax disc.

Find out more in our sharpen up policy briefing (November 2012).

What can I do?

Find out what you can do to help our other campaigns.

Campaign news

Charity welcomes General Medical Council's strengthening of guidelines on reporting medically 'unfit' driversn reporting medically 'unfit' drivers, 25/11/2015 
Thought-provoking 'Sharpen up' interactive resource launched, 21/08/2015
Charity urges government to make driver eyesight tests compulsory, 21/08/2014
Campaign calls on drivers to sharpen up, as survey reveals many fail to get sight tested, 06/08/2013
Brake reaction: thousands of casualties caused by poor driver vision, 02/11/2012
Brake campaign briefing on driver eyesight, 02/11/2012
Optical professionals encouraged to support Road Safety Week, 26/10/2012
Brake responds to DVLA consultation on changes to driver licensing laws, 24/02/2012
Brits take their eyes off the road, 01/02/2012
Meg Munn MP wins road safety award for campaign on driver eyesight, 05/01/2012
Proposals to weaken driver eyesight test criticised by Brake and bereaved family, 31/03/2011
Brake response to government consultation proposing to make number-plate test easier, 07/03/2011