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‘Sharpen up’ interactive resource launched by BrakeBack

Brake1Brake, the road safety charity, has launched a thought-provoking ‘Sharpen up’ interactive resource to highlight to drivers the importance of making sure your eyesight is up to scratch before getting behind the wheel.

Your eyesight can deteriorate rapidly without you noticing, hence experts recommend having an eyesight test at least every two years. ‘Sharpen up’, developed in partnership with Specsavers, can be used by anyone who works with drivers and by individuals directly wanting to find out more about driver eyesight.

A 2014 survey by Brake and Specsavers found that one in four (25%) drivers hadn’t had a vision test in the past two years; and 4% (the equivalent to more than 1.5 million UK drivers) had never had their eyes tested, whilst one in eight (12%) who needed glasses or contact lenses admitted driving without them.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of Brake, said:“ Our new ‘Sharpen up’ e-learning resource shows people the dangers of driving with poor eyesight, encouraging them to make that vital trip to the opticians. The resource is a powerful tool that shows that if you drive, it’s not just your own health and safety that you are risking if you neglect to get your eyesight checked, but also the lives of the people around you. The resource is freely available to road safety practitioners, employers, driving instructors and educators to help them raise life-saving awareness.”

The facts

  • Road crashes caused by poor driver vision are estimated to cause 2,900 casualties and cost £33 million in the UK per year.
  • Almost three quarters (74%) of people in the UK either wear glasses or contact lenses, or have had laser eye surgery to correct their vision. Long- or short-sightedness is the most common, and can affect anyone at any age.
  • Drivers with visual field defects (problems seeing objects in their central or peripheral vision) have double the incidence of road crashes and traffic violations compared to drivers with a full visual field. Almost half of people with visual field loss are unaware of the problem.
  • Several health conditions, including age-related macular degeneration, cataract and glaucoma, 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.

ImpairedVisionThe DVLA rules

  • You must wear glasses or contact lenses every time you drive if you need them to meet the ‘standards of vision for driving’.
  • You must tell DVLA if you’ve got any problem with your eyesight that affects both of your eyes, or the remaining eye if you only have one eye.
  • Check if you need to tell DVLA about your eyesight problem by searching the A to Z of medical conditions that could affect your driving.
  • You could be prosecuted if you drive without meeting the standards of vision for driving.

Standards of vision for driving

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.

Take a test

Pace out the correct distance from a (standard) car number plate, to meet the legal minimum eyesight requirement (20 metres) and make sure that you can read the number easily without squinting or screwing up your eyes (a good stride is approximately 1 metre). If not, it’s worth getting an eye check, especially if you have always had good vision or have not had an eye-check for a long time..

People with impaired vision are much more likely to be involved in a road crash, and are estimated to cause 2,900 casualties per year1. To access the new ‘Sharpen Up’ resource online visit:


Posted by Leana Kell on 31/08/2015