POLICE checks throughout this month will see drivers lose their licence if they can’t read a number plate from 20 metres.

Road safety charity Brake is teaming up with Thames Valley Police and other to run a month-long campaign on driver vision, revoking the licenses of those who don’t pass the 20m number plate check.

Throughout September, anyone stopped by road policing officers will be required to take the test, with those who fail having their licence immediately taken away.

The Leader:

The checks are part of a wider campaign by Brake to encourage the public and the Government to take driver vision seriously, with an estimated 1.5m UK licence holders never having had an eye test.

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Crashes involving a driver with defective eyesight are thought to cause 2,900 casualties every year on the UK’s roads, the charity says.

In the UK, driver vision testing requires only a 20m number plate check to be taken during a driving test and nothing else for the rest of a driver’s time on the roads.

Government driving eyesight rules

You must be able to read (with glasses or contact lenses, if necessary) a car number plate made after 1 September 2001 from 20 metres.

• You must also meet the minimum eyesight standard for driving by having a visual acuity of at least decimal 0.5 (6/12) measured on the Snellen scale (with glasses or contact lenses, if necessary) using both eyes together or, if you have sight in one eye only, in that eye.

• You must also have an adequate field of vision - your optician can tell you about this and do a test.

Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake, said: “It stands to reason that good eyesight is fundamental to safe driving, yet our current licensing system does not do enough to protect us from drivers with poor vision.

“It is frankly madness that there is no mandatory requirement on drivers to have an eye test throughout the course of their driving life, other than the disproven 20m number plate test when taking the driving test. Only by introducing rigorous and professional eye tests can we fully tackle the problem of unsafe drivers on our roads.”

“Partnering with the police on this campaign will help us understand the extent of poor driver vision in the UK, an issue where good data is lacking. This is the first-step on the road to ensuring that good eyesight is a given on UK roads – the public shouldn’t expect anything less.”

The number plate test must be conducted in good daylight with glasses or corrective lenses (if required), but if the driver is not wearing glasses or lenses at the time, then the test should be carried out without the glasses or corrective lenses.

Sergeant Rob Heard, representing the police forces taking part in the campaign, said: “All of us require good vision to drive safely on our roads - not being able to see a hazard or react to a situation quickly enough can have catastrophic consequences.

“The legal limit is being able to read a number plate at 20m, around 5 car lengths, however this is a minimum requirement and a regular eyesight test with an optician is a must if we are going to be safe on the road.”