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Poor eyesight could cost you your licence

Vision Express eye test

Drivers who are stopped by police will have their licences revoked immediately if they fail a simple roadside eye test.

The tough new crackdown aims to catch some of the thousands of motorists who get behind the wheel despite having defective eyesight.

The initiative is being rolled out across Thames Valley, Hampshire and the West Midlands.

Every motorist who is stopped by officers will have to pass a basic vision test before being allowed to continue driving.

If they are unable to read a number plate clearly from a distance of 20 metres they will have their licence confiscated on the spot and will not be allowed to continue on their journey.

Essential advice

Over time our eyesight deteriorates and previously strong vision can become poor.

If eyesight problems are left unaddressed they can often lead to poor reaction times to unexpected hazards or the behaviour of other road users.

Richard Gladman, IAM RoadSmart’s head of driving and riding standards, has this advice…

  • Book regular check-ups. Eyesight can deteriorate over time without you noticing. If you are having to move closer to the television to read the titles clearly or have noticed even a slight deterioration with your eyes, we recommend a visit to the optician for a check-up; this should be done on a regular basis (every two years) and it’s free for the over 60s
  • Take a break: eyes get tired too. If you are travelling for long periods of time, you should take a break every two hours or every 100 miles, whichever is sooner. This will refresh you and your eyes, keeping you alert
  • Driving at night can be the most problematic area as our eyes age. No matter how eagle-eyed we may think we are, it is a scientific fact that as we get older our eyes become less sensitive to light. Avoiding night time driving is a wise precaution if you are starting to struggle to see clearly after dusk
  • Keep a pair of sunglasses in the car in all seasons; low sun on a wet road will make you wish you hadn’t packed them away after the summer
  • Know the law. 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. To find out more information on this visit the government’s driving eyesight rules page here
  • Use this to test yourself, if you struggle to read it get checked out straight away
  • Stay hydrated. Water is very good in keeping you hydrated and is also good for your eyes. With the added bonus of helping you maintain concentration while driving and riding

“Deteriorating eyesight can often be a sign of other health problems so a check-up is a good idea,” adds Richard.

“If you do have eye correction prescribed for driving make sure you use it, not having your glasses is a poor excuse when you have had a crash.

“And how often do you clean your glasses? Even a pristine windscreen will seem dirty if the lenses are covered in fingerprints.”

About Gareth Herincx

Gareth is a versatile journalist, copywriter and digital editor who's worked across the media in newspapers, magazines, TV, teletext, radio and online. After long stints at the BBC, GMTV and ITV, he now specialises in motoring.

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