Driving for zero: vision and ill-health

Vision Express are proud to sponsor this campaign.

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. Read more about driver eyesight. and try out Brake’s 'Sharpen up' interactive resource to see the importance of regular eye tests for drivers.

A person’s fitness to drive can also be affected by ill-health. Some long and short term illnesses can result in reduced driving capability, as the driver experiences deterioration in mental and/or physical capacity due to either the illness or the medication prescribed to treat it. 'Driver or rider illness or disability, mental or physical' is estimated to have contributed to 2,289 road crashes and 121 road crashes resulting in fatalities in 2015. 

The Driver & vehicle licencing agency (DVLA) publishes a list of medical conditions that can affect driving capabilities, including those conditions that require the driver to alert the DVLA of their diagnosis before getting behind the wheel. In some cases medical practitioners will inform their patient that they are unfit to drive and advise them to inform the DVLA, it is then the individual's responsibility to do so. 

What we need

  • Drivers to have their eyesight tested every two years, even if their vision appears to have remained the same;
  • If a driver notices anything wrong with their vision they should have an eye test straight away;
  • If a driver requires contact lenses or glasses to correct their vision, these should be worn at all times behind the wheel;
  • The government to make eyesight testing compulsory before the driving test, instead of the current licence plate testing that fails to account for peripheral vision and the driver's sensitivity to light;
  • The government to make eyesight testing with a qualified optician or medical practitioner mandatory every ten years, when a driver renews their photocard licence;
  • Drivers to have their eyesight tested when reapplying for their licence on reaching 70 and thereafter;
  • The government to raise awareness of the importance of regular eyesight tests, at least every two years, by providing reminders e.g. on motorway gantries and DVLA vehicle tax documentation. 

What can I do?

Return to our driving for zero campaign page

Campaign news

Brake backs calls for changes to how we are deemed "fit to drive" after inquiry finds that  crash that killed six people could have been prevented, 08/12/2015
Charity welcomes General Medical Council's strengthening of guidelines on reporting medically 'unfit' drivers 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

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