When it comes to safe driving, good eyesight is not just a requirement but a necessity.

Each time we get behind the wheel, we rely on our vision more than any other sense to guide us, react to changes, and make split-second decisions.

It’s not just about legal compliance; it’s about ensuring the safety of yourself and others.

Shockingly, it’s estimated that every year at least 2,900 casualties are caused by poor driver vision, and around 1.8 million drivers don’t meet the basic legal standard for vision.

In this post, we’re delving into the importance of making sure your eyesight is good enough for driving, we’ll cover the minimum vision standards set by authorities, and provide practical guidance on how you can assess your own eyesight to ensure you meet these vital requirements.

What is the Minimum Vision Required for Driving?

In the UK, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) sets specific standards that drivers must meet.

Understanding these requirements is the first step in assessing whether your eyesight is roadworthy.

According to gov.uk at the time of publishing this, the standards for driving in the UK are:

“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.”

Bus and Lorry Drivers

Bus and lorry drivers “must have a visual acuity at least 0.8 (6/7.5) measured on the Snellen scale in their best eye and at least 0.1 (6/60) on the Snellen scale in the other eye.

This standard can be reached using glasses with a corrective power not more than (+) 8 dioptres, or with contact lenses. There’s no specific limit for the corrective power of contact lenses.

Drivers operating these types of vehicles must have an uninterrupted horizontal visual field of at least 160 degrees with an extension of at least 70 degrees left and right and 30 degrees up and down. No defects should be present within a radius of the central 30 degrees.”

How Can I Test My Vision is OK for Driving?

Regularly checking your vision is a key part of maintaining driving safety. It may even help you detect potential eye conditions early on as well.

Some organisations will have processes in place to have their drivers check their eyesight periodically, but it’s often left for drivers to take personal responsibility.

While professional eye examinations are the most reliable method, there are also simple tests you can perform at home to gauge whether your eyesight meets the basic requirements for driving.

As already mentioned, the legal requirement in the UK is being able to read a car number plate made after 1 September 2001 from 20 metres.

You can pace out the correct distance yourself and check if you can read the number plate easily without squinting or screwing up your eyes.

How Can I Check My Drivers’ Eyesight Is Good Enough?

As a fleet manager, it’s good compliance to periodically check if your driver’s eyesight meets the legal requirement.

All you need to do is have your drivers read a number plate from 20 metres and check they’re not squinting or struggling to read the plate.

If you have a driver who is struggling to read the plate, you can suggest they seek a professional assessment from an optician.