New eyesight test changes loom as DVSA tightens UK driving regulations

cropped view of woman in glasses looking at mirror in car

Motorists have been told to prepare for law changes requiring extensive eyesight tests to drive on Britain’s roads.

As the DVSA tightens driving regulations, experts from LeaseCar.uk have cautioned that drivers who have poor night vision risk having their licences withdrawn.

With 17 million drivers in the UK having night vision problems, the new tests may result in more licences being revoked than ever before. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has released its business strategy for 2023–2024, which includes a review of the way that eye tests are now conducted.

Currently, in good light, drivers must be able to read a licence plate from 20 metres away to pass the eye test. The absence of varying light levels is one of the possible difficulties with the way the eyesight test is conducted, according to a public consultation.

In order to evaluate a more accurate eyesight test during a driving test that satisfies the necessary requirements, the DVSA is currently working with a DVLA Medical Panel. Currently, it is against the law for an examiner to check eyesight in bad weather or before sunrise or after sunset.

The good daylight aspect may soon be dropped in favour of more trustworthy testing to ensure drivers’ eyesight is adequate at all times in an effort to make the roads safer. While details of the new eyesight exam are still pending, experts at LeaseCar.uk believe regular, required eyesight exams in low light may be implemented.

The ability to see in the dark is impacted by a variety of eye diseases, and older drivers are more likely to have deteriorating night vision. Drivers are already required by law to notify the DVLA of any vision loss or certain eye disorders; failing to do so may result in a fine of £1000 and a driving ban.

The DVSA hopes the changes coming into place in 2024 will create safer and more sustainable journeys. Tim Alcock from LeaseCar.uk, said: “The skills needed to drive in the dark are different from those needed in daylight, which means more people than ever could see their licences revoked if they fail a potentially new eyesight test.

“Although we don’t know exactly what the new rules will be, the DVSA has highlighted the lack of light levels in current eye tests as a problem. The current eyesight tests only require reading a number plate from 20 metres in good daylight, and it’s not a true reflection of someone’s visibility.

“A staggering 17 million drivers in the UK admit to having trouble seeing in the dark, which could be a huge problem if this new eyesight test is introduced. We expect they could also take a toll on the number of eligible elderly drivers, who are more likely to have eye conditions and fading night vision.

“If you notice a change in vision or struggle to drive in the dark, it is important to get checked by a professional and inform the DVLA.”

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