Eyesight Requirements for Driving

Good eyesight is essential if you are to drive safely. But what are the rules on eyesight standards?

The DVLA states that in order to meet the minimum standard for driving a car you must be able to see a car number plate made after the

1st September 2001 from a distance of 20 metres (or 65½ feet). This is all well and good but this test is very arbitrary as it assumes a perfectly clean number plate being viewed in good daylight.

The reality is, of course, that we all drive in varying lighting conditions (daylight, dusk, night) and varying weather conditions (rain, bright sunshine, snow etc.). All the different combinations of these factors will adversely affect your vision. Maybe the question we should be asking ourselves is, “How can I make sure I am seeing as well as I possibly can when I drive?”

During the course of an eye examination your optometrist will test your distance vision and advise you whether your vision meets the minimum required standard for driving. The chances are that your vision will meet or sometimes even exceed this standard once it is corrected with glasses or contact lenses where necessary……but is there any more you can do to really get the best out of your vision?

  • Anti-reflective coatings (sometimes referred to as anti-glare coatings) allow approximately 10% more light through the lens giving crisper vision, especially when driving at night.
  • For stronger prescriptions aspheric lenses give you better peripheral vision, something which is important when driving to provide a better overall view of your surroundings.
  • Photochromic lenses change tint depth according to external lighting conditions. Whilst they won’t go as dark as sunglasses they can help to shield your eyes from the worst of the glare when driving in sunny conditions.
  • Sunglasses can be used up to a light transmission depth of 83% when driving in sunny conditions and will help to shield you from the effects of bright sunlight. A better option than a regular tint is to go for polarized lenses which are particularly effective at minimizing glare.

Finally, make sure you have regular eye tests as recommended by your optometrist. This may seem obvious but because vision tends to deteriorate very slowly the effects are not always noticed. If you put off your eye test beyond the recommended time limit your vision may have deteriorated below the DVLA minimum standards. If you think your vision has gotten worse book yourself in with your optician even if you are not ‘due’ for an eye test.

Call in to your local Yates & Suddell and we will be happy to advise you on how you can get the most out of your vision when driving.