Is a change in vision affecting your driving?
As you get older, changes in your vision and other health issues can affect your driving. There are lots things you can do to continue driving safely, like getting a free NHS eye examination.
Driving safely for longer
Changes in your eyesight, slower reaction times and medications can all affect driving. As a result, you may find you start to avoid driving at night, use the car less, drive shorter distances and generally avoid motorway driving where possible.
It is important to make sure that whenever you get in a car you are still able to drive safely. If you do notice changes in your vision, you don’t have to wait for your next eye examination, visit your local optometrist (opticians) for help and advice.
What you need to know
- You should get regular NHS eye examinations to help ensure you’re driving safely
- You can refresh your driving skills by take a refresher course through driving schools as well as national organisations such as IAM RoadSmart or the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA)
- The Highway Code had some major changes in 2022, so you should keep up to date with the latest changes
- You may be eligible for help towards the cost of glasses or contact lenses in the form of NHS optical vouchers
- You must be able to read a number plate at a distance of 20 metres away – that’s roughly five car lengths
- If you need to wear glasses, then do so while driving, otherwise it’s an offence which could invalidate your insurance
Don’t ignore changes in your vision
We spoke to older drivers about how they have adapted their driving as their vision changes. The best way to make sure your eyes are fit to drive is to have them examined regularly.
Hear from older drivers and their families
You must tell the DVLA if you have a driving licence and you develop:
- A ‘notifiable’ medical condition or disability
- A condition or disability that has gotten worse since you got your licence
Notifiable conditions are anything that could affect your ability to drive safely. They can include:
- Diabetes or taking insulin
- Syncope (fainting)
- Heart conditions
- Sleep apnoea
You could be fined up to £1,000 if you do not tell the DVLA about a condition that might affect your ability to drive safely. You could also be prosecuted in the event of a collision, even if it is not your fault.
If you’re stopped by police for a check and you fail an eye test, your licence can be revoked immediately.