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Four things you should know about driving without your glasses when you need them.

Four things you should know about driving without your glasses when you need them.

A little test for all of you who wear glasses and drive – get your driving licence out, turn it over, and have a look at the back. Do you see a 01 written in in the box that’s highlighted under the number 12?

UK Driving Licence

If there is, do you know what it means? No, you should really find , because it indicates that you require glasses or contact lenses to drive. And, if you’re not putting your specs on each time you get behind the wheel you could in in for a nasty shock.

Driving without glasses is more common than you think

Now, you may be wondering why we’re covering this topic. The answer is because recent research from Direct Line revealed some shocking statistics. These included the fact that some 13.3 million people risk their lives, and the lives of others on the road, by driving without wearing their glasses. And that 21 per cent of drivers who need glasses or contact lenses to drive safely always drive without them.

Are you one of them? If you are, here are four important things you should know about driving and wearing glasses.

Driving without your glasses is illegal

Firstly, driving without your glasses when you need them to see properly is illegal. As we mentioned, if you see a 01 in the box marked 12 on the back of your licence, you are required by law to correct your eyesight if you want to drive.

So if you’re stopped for speeding, for example, the police will ask to see your licence. They’ll check the codes on the back and, if they see that you should be wearing glasses, but you’re not, you could face prosecution just for this. This could result in you getting a fine, penalty points on your licence and even disqualification in some instances.

If you’re involved in a more serious accident, one that requires the police to attend, they’ll check if you need glasses to drive. If you do and you don’t have them on, you could be charged with a number of offences, depending on the seriousness of the injuries to those involved in the accident. For example, if someone is killed in the accident, you could be charged with death by dangerous driving, which carries a penalty of 15 years in jail, if found guilty.

Driving without your glasses is more dangerous

Driving without glasses when you need them is not just illegal, it’s dangerous too, although you don’t really have to be Sherlock to work that one out!

The research also showed that 16 per cent of motorists reported having an accident in the last year. That number jumps right up to 67 per cent for people who choose not to wear their glasses, which is a significant increase. So those who drive without their glasses increase their chances of having an accident four-fold.

The figure for how many road accident casualties are caused by defective eyesight is also shocking. According to the RAC, there are approximately 2,900 casualties caused by defective driving per year in the UK, costing a staggering £33 million. That’s a huge amount of money being paid out for something that could have been prevented.

And the most recent government data only adds to the grim reading. In 2014, there were 260 accidents reported as being caused by driving with defective eyesight, sadly 56 of those involved serious injury and nine were fatal.

Driving without your glasses invalidates your insurance

The fact that’s it’s illegal, means that driving without your glasses will also invalidate your insurance. So if you’re involved in an accident, you could be left with a pretty hefty bill for repairs to your car and the other person’s vehicle. And you may also have to pay any legal costs that would have been covered on your policy too.

Another little question – do you know how often you should have your eyes tested?

Well, the official advice on this is you should have your eyes tested at least every two years. And that’s an issue because more than a third of drivers surveyed by Direct Line said they hadn’t had an eye test for more than two years.

So even if you don’t wear glasses for driving right now, you should make sure you keep on top of having your eyes tested too or you could be driving illegally, and without valid insurance, and not even know it.

Gus Park, director of Direct Line motor insurance comments on why you should keep on top of your eyesight:

“Given that a person’s eyesight can change a significant amount in as little as six months or a year, we recommend motorists have their eyes tested at least every two years to make sure they remain safe on the road and reduce the risk of road accidents.”

Driving and eyesight rules

And finally, just to be thorough, here are the rules on the distances you should be able to see to be driving legally.

You must be able to read a car number plate from 20 meters away. You can be wearing glasses or contact lenses to achieve this.

You must also meet the Snellen scale for visual acuity, which is the chart of letters you use at the opticians, this is set at least 0.5 (6/12). And you must also have an adequate field of vision, which your optician can test for you. If you don’t meet these standards, you are obliged to inform the DVLA. So, if you’ve not had your eyes tested for over two years, get yourself off to the optician. If you’ve gone out without taking your glasses with you and you need them to drive, stop right now!