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Less than half of drivers know eyesight rules

Motoring Research logo Motoring Research 20/09/2021 John Redfern
a close up of a side view mirror: Driving Eyesight Warning © Provided by Motoring Research Driving Eyesight Warning

The majority of motorists are unaware of the correct legal eyesight requirement to drive safely. 

Research by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) found less than half (45.8 percent) of those asked knew they must be able to read a car number plate from 20 metres away.

As part of National Eye Health Week, the DVLA will launch a campaign to remind drivers to check their eyesight.

Going the distance

a man and a woman looking at the camera: Driving Eyesight Warning © Provided by Motoring Research Driving Eyesight Warning

The DVLA surveyed 1,623 drivers earlier this year about eyesight standards

A total of 744 were aware of the need to be able to read a number plate from the 20-metre distance. Almost a fifth (19.8 percent) believed this distance was 15 metres, while 28 percent thought it was 25 metres. 


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Most concerning were the six percent of drivers asked who could not specify any distance at all.

For the avoidance of doubt, drivers must be able to read a number plate from 20 metres. Where a driver needs glasses or contact lenses, these must be worn for every journey.

A reminder to test yourself

a man sitting in a car: Driving Eyesight Warning © Provided by Motoring Research Driving Eyesight Warning

The DVLA will aim to improve awareness of eyesight standards throughout National Eye Health Week. 

Lynette Rose, director of strategy, policy and communications at DVLA said: “The number plate test is a simple and effective way for motorists to check their eyesight meets the required standard for driving, which includes reading a number plate clearly from 20 metres. 

“Anyone can do the test at any time. Twenty metres is typically around the length of five cars parked next to each other – you can test yourself on whether you can clearly read the number plate of the furthest car.”

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