Third of drivers doubt their eyesight is good enough to drive14 Nov 2017

1 in 3 optometrists see people with sub-standard vision for driving

The Association of Optometrists (AoP) says that one in three of its members see patients who continue to drive with vision below the legal standard.

Also, a survey for the association suggests almost a third (30%) of UK motorists have doubted whether their own vision is good enough to get behind the wheel.

The AoP believes that a change in the law is needed so that “all UK drivers required to prove that their vision meets the legal standard every ten years.”

Commenting on the news Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said:

“Public opinion is crystal clear. Previous research for us has shown that four out of five drivers would be willing to pay for a compulsory eye test to coincide with the renewal of their driving licence.

“But like a car MOT, an eye test can only ever be a snapshot of wellbeing at a moment in time. Just as motorists should be routinely monitoring the road worthiness of their vehicles, so they should also be regularly checking their own fitness to drive.

“The financial cost of checking your eyes is minimal, and a fraction of the overall cost of running a car. Yet the human cost of driving with failing eye sight and having an accident can be immeasurable. Drivers mustn’t just keep their eyes on the road, they must ensure they can see what’s ahead.”

Previous research for the RAC Foundation showed almost four out of five motorists support the introduction of compulsory eye tests for drivers each decade.

Seventy-nine percent of those questioned in an Ipsos MORI survey for the RAC Foundation say not only do they back the move but they would also be prepared to pay for the tests which would coincide with the compulsory ten-yearly renewal of driving licences. 

The results show support for a regular eye test was high amongst drivers and non-drivers alike. Support did not differ significantly by gender, age group, social status or geographical location, though there was slightly more support amongst women and those aged over 55, and slightly less support amongst those living in London.

Currently, the only compulsory eyesight check for motorists comes when learners are about to take their driving test. They are required to read a number plate at 20 metres (20.5 metres if it is an old-style number plate). If candidates fail to do this then the test will end there and then.

When drivers come to renew their driving licence at age 70 they are asked to self-declare that they are fit to drive. They then need to do this every three years.



Philip Gomm – Head of External Communications – RAC Foundation

[email protected] | 020 7747 3445 | 07711 776448 | 020 7389 0601 (ISDN)

Notes to editors:

The RAC Foundation is a transport policy and research organisation that explores the economic, mobility, safety and environmental issues relating to roads and their users.

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