Stand outside and see if you can read a number plate at 20m, around five car lengths, in daylight conditions. If you can’t, then the Police could revoke your licence and you may face prosecution.

At the moment, you only have to pass this 20m number plate test when you take your driving test - after that you face no other compulsory eye tests for the rest of your driving life.

Yet crashes involving a driver with defective eyesight are estimated to cause 2,900 casualties every year on the UK’s roads 

Only yesterday, an 87-year-old motorist surrendered his driving licence after having his eyes being tested by the Surrey Police, which had stopped him for driving the wrong way down the road. The test revealed that he could only read a number plate from 7.3m away, rather than the minimum distance of 20m.

Ridding roads of defective driver vision

Drivers and the Government are coming under rising pressure to take driver vision seriously.

Road safety charity Brake has launched a new campaign to make eyesight testing compulsory not only before the driving test, but each time a driver renews their photocard license.

They are teaming up with police forces in Thames Valley, Hampshire and West Midlands to run a campaign in which any drivers stopped in these areas in September will have to take the 20m number plate test. Anyone who fails will have their licence immediately revoked. Data from the tests will be used to better understand the extent of poor driver eyesight on our roads.

“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,” said Sergeant Rob Heard, representing the police forces taking part in the campaign.

Sergeant Heard chairs The Older Driver Forum, a not-for-profit organisation providing courses and advice from experts specialising in keeping older people driving safely for longer.

The Royal National Institute of Blind People has estimated that 13.8m people don’t have regular eye tests. But according to a recent survey, three quarters (75%) of people want an eye test to be mandatory when renewing a driving licence.

Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake, said: “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.” 

To read more about road safety go to Solved.