The Driving Vehicle and Licensing Agency has issued a warning to elderly drivers that they must declare their medical conditions or face being fined. 

The government agency has urged drivers of any age to inform them of any conditions that may affect their driving or be subject to a £1000 penalty.

At the moment, there are no laws or checks that assess the ability of elderly drivers to get behind the wheel but there is increasing public pressure for this to change. 

Recently, lawyers and leading driving experts have called for a bi-annual check to assess motorists' abilities to help clamp down on potential accidents. 

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The DVLA has reminded drivers should have good eyesight is needed to detect road hazards and prevent accidents.

It has also recommended to motorists that they should attend regular eye checks and assess themselves from home.

What is the legal eyesight standard for driving in the UK?

The DVLA website sets out a series of vision standards that drivers must comply with to be on the roads:

  • 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.
  • Using the Snellen scale, you must also meet the minimum eyesight standard for driving by having a visual acuity of at least decimal 0.5 (6/12) but glasses or contact lenses if necessary with 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.

There are different rules for bus and lorry drivers and a full breakdown of vision standards is available on the government website.

Failing to report your condition could land you a £1000 fine or prosecution.

What visual impairments do I need to report to the DVLA?

A full A to Z of medical conditions that require reporting to the government agency is on the DVLA website.

When it comes to reporting visual impairments to the DVLA, you do not need to say if you’ve had surgery to correct short-sightedness and can meet the eyesight standards.

You also do not need to report being short or long-sighted or colour blind if you meet the vision standards or if you wear contacts and lenses to help meet the restrictions.

The safety warning for elderly drivers

Professor Michael Hornberger, a leading expert from Hampshire Constabulary's new older Drivers Forum has shared this same safety warning to elderly drivers.

Hornberger explained that drivers who had been diagnosed with dementia for instance would find it “increasingly hard” to be on the roads safely.

He added: “The progressive cognitive problems make it increasingly harder for people with dementia to continue driving.

“At some stage people with dementia will have to stop driving as their cognitive impairment does not allow them to remain safe on the road.”