Warning: Your Eyes Might Not Be Road Worthy As You Think | The insurance company will be looking out for other factors that may have contributed to the accident – bald tyres for example, or worn down brakes. And it won’t be just your car they’ll be looking at – they’ll need to be sure that you are roadworthy too – specifically when it comes to your eyesight. It’s important to realise that there are more things to be taken into consideration when you have an accident than who was at fault.

It’s our responsibility to look after our eyes and visit the optician regularly to make sure that we are wearing the right glasses if they are needed. If you do need to wear glasses or contact lenses then you must wear them while you are driving, and if you feel that your eyesight is getting worse, you must arrange to see the optician again.

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Many people explain away an accident by saying “the other vehicle just appeared, I didn’t see it” – but what if that was a result of your bad eyesight rather than the other driver being at fault?

I had an encounter just a few days that really made me think about this subject. I was going through a one-way system in Leeds when the driver in front of me slowed right down, even though it was a green light. He was trying to work out which way to go by reading the signs, and was obviously having a lot of difficulty in making them out. 

We eventually reached the lights, which were red by this time, at just 10mph and he rolled through them, oblivious to the cars joining from the right as he was concentrating on trying to read the signs. He was lucky not to cause an accident!

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This man was breaking the law – which states that all drivers must meet a minimum standard of eyesight before they can legally drive. If they fall short of the minimum standards, then they must relinquish their licence.

The standard eyesight test for drivers’ sets some clear targets – for example, as long as you can read a number plate which is 50 mm wide and 79mm high (a standard number plate with numbers and letters) from 20 metres away, then you are permitted to drive. It’s acceptable for this standard to be achieved with the aid of glasses or contact lenses.

In America, some states have introduced laws that require drivers to take a sight test every five years, but it is not something that is being considered for the UK at the moment. However, we so have some rules relating to elderly drivers. After the age of 70, drivers are required to complete a medical form that states that they are fit to drive, and included within the definition of ‘fitness’ is eyesight. Any driver aged over 70 that doesn’t send the form in automatically loses their licence.

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The law does not force you to have regular eyesight tests however, the onus is on you to keep on top of the situation. If you develop a medical condition that affects your eyesight to a degree that cannot be aided by glasses or contact lenses, that is when you need to tell the DVLA. To withhold that information from them is considered to be a criminal offence.

From the insurance companies’ point of view, if your eyesight is defective and could well have helped cause the accident, they will probably refuse to pay out on any claim. Perhaps you usually wear glasses but didn’t have them on at the time – an expensive and potentially very dangerous error. | Warning: Your Eyes Might Not Be Road Worthy As You Think

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