DVSA to look at new eyesight law changes

The consideration of a change in the eyesight test administered during a driving test was published in the DVSA’s 2023–2024 business plan

A road surrounded by trees with cars driving on it

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has published its 2023–2024 business plan, which could see new rules around eyesight testing introduced.

The plan states that the DVSA is “considering how the eyesight test is administered during a driving test,” and it will engage with the DVLA’s Medical Panel to ensure that any new procedures meet the current standards.

A public consultation exploring the potential challenges to how the eyesight test is performed was carried out earlier this year and found that the majority of respondents supported the proposal to have “more flexibility” on how the eyesight test is conducted.

“The aim is to provide more flexibility about when the driving test is conducted and in different levels of light,” the plan states.

Currently when taking a driving test, motorists are required to read a car number plate made after September 1, 2001, from 20 metres.

The AOP has welcomed the DVSA’s plans, but is urging the implementation of fail-safe visual assessment methods.

AOP chief executive, Adam Sampson, said: “The indication by the DVSA to remove the ‘good daylight’ requirement for sight tests for drivers is concerning as it completely misses the mark. The current system is deeply flawed and falls behind many other countries who require a full sight test to ensure motorists have good enough vision to drive.”

He added: “We have long argued that the way drivers’ vision is assessed needs to change. The number plate test is not a reliable indicator of whether someone can drive safely because it does not check all the relevant aspects of visual function. It is also only carried out once with a driving instructor, meaning someone can pass their test and then never have their vision checked again. The solution is to replace the number plate test with a modern and adequate evaluation process that is carried out by a trained eye health professional, much better placed to assess vision.”

Earlier this year DVLA amended its published list of conditions after the AOP raised concerns that it could affect all drivers, especially elderly drivers, who are more likely to suffer from issues with their vision.

A number of eye conditions were subsequently removed from the list, which now covers six eye conditions: blepharospasm, diabetic retinopathy (with laser treatment), diplopia (double vision), glaucoma, nyctalopia (night blindness), and retinitis pigmentosa.

Overarching this, through its 2023–2024 business plan, the DVSA is looking to make transport safer, greener and healthier.