Drivers will lose licence if they fail roadside eye test

Published 03 September 2018

Drivers will lose their licence if they fail a new on-the-spot eyesight test, as part of a police crackdown on road safety. 

Forces in Thames Valley, Hampshire and West Midlands will run the month-long campaign on driver vision in September, revoking the licence of anyone who can’t read a numberplate from 20 metres (five car lengths).

Road safety charity Brake claims that 1.5 million UK licence holders have never had an eye test, with defective eyesight causing 2900 casualties every year on the road. 

The trial scheme will be limited to three police forces in England, and the data collected will be used to gain an improved understanding of the extent of poor driver eyesight on UK roads, which is thought to be vastly underreported in Government statistics.

"Official Government statistics on the impact of poor sight on road safety are the tip of the iceberg."

Under existing rules it’s down to car drivers to inform the DVLA if they have any eyesight problems, with the only mandatory examination taking place during the practical part of the driving test. However, the police do have the power to revoke a licence via the DVLA if they feel the driver poses a threat to other road users.

Brake, alongside Vision Express, is urging the Government to tighten up UK driver vision laws and make eyesight testing compulsory before the driving test and each time a driver renews their photocard licence. A recent survey commissioned by Vision Express showed that 75 per cent want a recent eye test to be mandatory when renewing a driving licence.

“We believe official Government statistics on the impact of poor sight on road safety are the tip of the iceberg and we know the public feel the same as we do about tackling poor driver vision" said Jonathan Lawson, chief executive of Vision Express.

The crackdown comes after Surrey police released dash-cam footage of a near-miss, when a driver narrowly missed a police car when he turned the wrong way onto a main road. The 87-year-old failed an on-the-spot eye test and had his licence revoked.


Andrew harlow    on 3 September 2018

anything to milk the british taxpayer while people are being stabbed murdered all police can do is milk the easy target the motorist

Cross hairs    on 3 September 2018

The requirement to be able to read a number plate from 20 metres away is outdated and the failure to do so does not mean your vision is too poor to drive.The modern requirement for a driving licence should include annual eye tests as any defects can be corrected by prescription lenses.The results of individual eye tests should be recorded by DVLA and anyone failing the eye test should then have their licence suspended until eyesight is corrected.

Sir Kevin Parr, Baronet    on 10 September 2018

I agree with you but when retired everey 3 years you have to face all exams eyes reading and heart exame blood test and everey thing. It is panic aged 65 fit as fire but wear specs and so extra vision test this time. I ahve never had an accident in 40 years plus of driving all sorts of vehicles motorbikes prior to that too.I drive with care it is my life too in my hands. Police break law daily so are they criminals in unifrom or mearly Gods.

conman    on 3 September 2018

Can't believe that Vision Express are more interested in safety than selling glasses, say no more. Great promo for their ads people. In the new TV ads ''sorry mate didn't see you I wasn't wearing my vision express super driving glasses'',

gary bampkin    on 3 September 2018

I know so many people who drive without there prescription glasses because of vanity..So there must be thousands of drivers out there who either don`t wear there prescription glasses,Or They need glasses..I for one will be very happy if laws are enforced to make people wear them..The roads will be safer for us all

Bilboman    on 3 September 2018

There's no suggestion of a financial penalty in the article, so if the (overstretched, under-resourced) police manage to get a number of potentially dangerous drivers off the road, I say bring it on! The pilot scheme seems to be about data collection for useful research which will be of all-round benefit. Sounds like win-win to me.
I would also like to see regular eyesight tests, and I don't think a ten yearly check-up, to coincide with licence renewal, is exactly oppressive. In Spain, hearing, reflexes and hand-eye coordination are also checked. It's barely half an hour start to finish, and around €45 as I recall.

bobvfr    on 10 September 2018

Tests carried out in poor conditions - dusk, heavy rain etc. - may not give a fair result and a formal test at an optician may have a different outcome.

A driver who is not wearing prescription glasses or contact lenses should clearly be stopped immediately.

However, if a licence is revoked as a result of a roadside test, how can a driver get it back?

Des Boksan-Cullen    on 10 September 2018

concerned that a commerical opticians are involved in this campaign. Nothing against the compoanies involved who are very reputable ., my concerns commercial organisations who conduct eye tests are sell signt solutions are part of a Police initiative,

Ian Cole    on 10 September 2018

I was a pedestrian on a light controlled crossing and was knocked over by a driver who did not see me. They had their license revoked as they failed and eyesight test.

Caravan man    on 10 September 2018

Amazing isn’t it, get robbed ,house broken into by some low life,
Stabbed,have your car broken into, or stolen,no police available.
Your given a crime number. What a joke. But of course if your a driver,
From nowhere these loads of coppers,by some miracle.
Parasites the lot of you.

Sir Kevin Parr, Baronet    on 10 September 2018

This is an illegal move. No serving police man or female has to pass an eye examiners qualified test in order to test someones eyes. The damage an road side test may cause may be considered therefore in danger. If police are told to do this EU law stops them dead. It clearly states medical tests are not the issue of police force only ever that of senior eye surgeons and fully trained eye testers completing a half hour full test.Another stupid way to take the public to court for refusing by human rights of man to not take this test. Thought up by nasty minded criminal minded Boris Johnstone perhaps as way of bringing in more cash. If no law is broken I think police have no legal right to detain a driver. i told a duty officer to leave my club as he had two pints and was ordering another. He was refused as his police car was outside and his radio speaking. He said someone will pick it up. I asked was he still on duty.he said yes.i asked him to leave in the interest of public. He told me he was going to nail me as he would take my reg plate number and stick a charge on my for dangerous driving , or worse that may carry jail sentence. I rang police and reported said officer .For near a month he stuck to my back bumper in his police car but I filmed him. I took it further and then I was hounded by officers every day so i sold the car and took another which stopped it. Not cleaver any of them who could not hold a job down outside. There for pensions at 55. many of them. One or two are real coppers but far between most are criminals in uniform

r pitchford    on 10 September 2018

i have my eye test every 2 year as advised. if I have any problems in between I go and have another people that don't follow the law should loose their licence until proof is obtained from an up to date eye test. why do they give drink drivers their licences back or drug drivers they should loose their licences for good. how often do the so called police have their eyes tested after seeing some of the police driving antics over the last 50 years I think they should have eye tests every year as part of being in the should ambulance drivers and fire brigade and any other public body. bus drivers train drivers every body that transports any thing or any any form of transport.

Sir Kevin Parr, Baronet    on 10 September 2018

But what you do is not what this is about .The only question must be do police have the right to eye test any one or delay us if driving right. I do not mean the moran who turned left on one way right but did he even have sign telling him inging from side road? iF no sign he is not guilty the council and Highways office are

   on 10 September 2018

Under what law is this being done? I've read the Police Federation's 'Stop & Search' briefing (because this is what this amounts to - the Police are stopping and 'searching' (i.e. for people whose eyesight fails the test)).

I can't see anything in that summary that permits this gross abuse of police powers. Isn't this in contravention of the 2016 Human Rights Act - Protocol 1, Article 1 which protects your right to enjoy your property peacefully

"Property can include things like land, houses, objects you own, shares, licences, leases, patents, money, pensions and certain types of welfare benefits. A public authority cannot take away your property, or place restrictions on its use, without very good reason."

And is also in contravention of section 8 of the same act?

Allan Giles    on 10 September 2018

Hi john my rant my wife had a accident no one was hurt apart from severe bruising to her from the seat belt the officer who attended decided to take her from the ambulance to give her a eye test which she failed he didn't measure the distance just said can you read the no plate over there he didn't take into account that she was in pain and had been crying and was more worried as she had the 3 year old grandchild with her the SNEAKY officer did not say he was going to report her in fact we received a letter from the force saying no further action was to be taken the first we knew that her licence was revoked was 6 weeks later when the dvla wrote to her the following day after the letter arrived she had a eye test at a dvla approved optician and her eyesight was above the requirement to drive if he thought her vision was so bad perhaps he should have mentioned this to her but the real joy of this is she needs a car for work has anyone dealt with the dvla its a nightmare they sent her a form d1 but as she doesn't have anything wrong with her vision how can you fill this form in what a PLUMB some officers are

maywe    on 10 September 2018

How do they propose to judge the distance of 20 meters accurately?

S Beazeley    on 10 September 2018

I presume that when you fail the eyesight test, the police cancel your license immediately so they will take your car also as you cant drive it home ?

   on 10 September 2018

How hard is it to have your eyes tested? This nonsense about police powers, if there is an issue then alter the law to allow it. Perhaps if a driver fails a road side test they then can dispute the result by going to an optician, without the car of course. Let us put the lives of people first.

DrTeeth    on 10 September 2018

I just wish they would deal with those who travel in convoy in lane 2 (now a 3 point offence). If I so-called undertake in lane 1 doing 70, not undertaking as no lane change, I cannot be done and their "evidence" will be used against them. Since when do middle lane hoggers move over anyway?

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