Can’t see the problem

Rise in the number of people failing the driving test due to poor vision


A study of DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) data reveals a rise in the number of people failing their driving test before even getting the car.

The reason – poor eyesight.

See the sights

While many organisations have called for better eyesight tests, the current system seems to be working, at least on first sight.

Before getting in the car, an examiner tests the examinee on their ability to read the number plate of a stationary car parked 20 metres away.

Many believe this system is outdated and that a professional eyesight test certificate would be a better process. It would not only be more accurate and save on wasted tests, it would also help encourage all drivers to get regular sight tests. Many believe an up to date certificate should be supplied when applying to renew a driving licence every ten years.

With the huge waiting lists for driving tests, and driving lessons, ir would perhaps make sense that anyone applying for a provisional licence should also supply a valid eyesight test certificate.


According to analysis from the learner driver insurance company Veygo, 2,190 candidates have failed their driving tests at this point over the last five years due to poor eyesight.

Driving tests cost £62 each, so Veygo estimates that nearly £136,000 has been wasted overall before the cars exited the test centre.

Eyesight-related failures were at their highest in 2018, when 572 people failed, followed by 541 in 2019.

The figures for 2020 and 2021 were slightly lower at 280 and 339, respectively, as fewer tests happened overall due to the Covid pandemic.

However, 2022’s figures showed a substantial increase to near pre-pandemic, with 486 people unsuccessful tests due to bad vision.

The number of men with immediate failures was also higher than women over the five years, with 1,311 compared to 879.

Every two years

James Armstrong, CEO of Veygo, commented: “It’s interesting to see how many people fail their driving test yearly due to poor eyesight.

“Struggling to see the road clearly can be extremely dangerous to you and other road users and could have disastrous results.

“If you’re learning to drive and suspect you have problems with your vision, visit an optician for an eye test before taking further lessons or booking your practical driving exam.

“While you don’t need to inform the DVLA if you are long or short-sighted or colour blind, wear prescribed glasses or contact lenses while driving to satisfy the standards for vision.

“For those that have passed, failing to wear the correct eyewear to drive could also invalidate your insurance policy, meaning you could be out of pocket should you need to make a claim.

“So, get your eyes tested at least every two years to avoid costly mistakes.”


Hear it first!

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