Drivers who dont check their eyes ahead of winter risk £1,000 fine, DVLA warns

As the clocks go back and the nights draw in, the DVLA has reminded drivers they need to be able to see 20 meters ahead of them – the minimum requirement for road users.

Introduced in 2001, a new rule stipulated drivers must be able to read a number plate from at least this distance or else they could lose their licence.

In technical terms, the DVLA has laid out that drivers must meet a minimum visual acuity of decimal 0.5 (6/12) on the Snellen scale (This can be with the use of contact lenses or glasses if you need them) using both eyes if you have function of both. Those with the function of only one can use just that one.

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A list of conditions from the DVLA has also been produced which details medical impairments that must be declared to them if you are a sufferer. Failure to do so could result in £1,000 fine.

If you don't meet the minimum requirements you could be prosecuted and even taken to court where you could receive a fine or lose your licence.

In 2018 the DVLA reported that over half of motorists were unaware of the 20 meter rule, with only 5% using a measuring tool to ensure they did it accurately. A further 43% said they used alternative units of measurement to gauge the distance in front of them.

The DVLA's senior doctor, Dr Wyn Parry, said: "The number plate test is a simple and effective way for people to check their eyesight meets the required standards for driving.

"The easiest and quickest way to do this is to work out what 20 metres looks like at the roadside – this is typically about the length of 5 cars parked next to each other – and then test yourself on whether you can clearly read the number plate.

"It’s an easy check to perform any time of day at the roadside and takes just a couple of seconds.

"Having good eyesight is essential for safe driving, so it’s really important for drivers to have regular eye tests. Eyesight can naturally deteriorate over time so anyone concerned about their eyesight should visit their optician – don’t wait for your next check-up."

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