Having 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?
- Share the campaign on Twitter, Facebook or Google+ using the buttons at the top of the page
- Tweet your support: @Brakecharity, #SharpenUp
- Make Brake's Pledge, including a commitment to get your eyes tested regularly
- Write to your MP calling for compulsory, regular, professional eyesight checks for all drivers
- Sign up to our fortnightly bulletin for updates on our campaigns and how you can help
- Fundraise to support Brake's campaigns and vital support work
- Sign up for the UK's flagship road safety event, Road Safety Week, in November
Find out what you can do to help our other campaigns.
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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