What happens on the eyesight part of the driving test?
Being able to see clearly is vital for safe driving. Without good vision you will not be able to read
the road ahead, or road signs, and therefore won’t be able to make judgements about where on the
road you need to be, or safely respond to developing hazards. An eyesight test has therefore been
an essential part of the driving test since 1937, just two years after the first driving test was
You must be able to read, from at least 20 metres, a car number plate (post 2001). You should also
have a visual acuity of at least 0.5 (6/12) measured on the Snellen scale using both eyes (or just one
eye if you only have sight in one) and an adequate field of vision. If you are unsure about any of
this, or have any concerns at all about your eyesight, it would be a good idea to get an eye test with
an optician before you start driving. They will be able to tell you whether your eyesight is good
enough to drive, and will prescribe glasses or contact lenses to help you if necessary. If you need to
wear contact lenses or glasses to read a number plate from twenty metres, then you should wear
them during your test and whenever you drive.
How this part of the test works
At the beginning of your test, before you have even got to your car, the driving examiner will stop
you and ask you to read a number plate on a parked vehicle which is at least 20 metres away. You
may write down the number plate if you have difficulty with spoken English. If you can’t read the
first number plate, the examiner will ask you to read another one, slightly closer but still over the
required distance. If you cannot read this one, then they will measure the exact required distance to
a third number plate and ask you to read that one. If you are still unable to correctly read the
number plate, then the test will terminate. You will fail your test and the examiner will contact the
DVLA to revoke your provisional licence. You can reapply for a licence after this, but will be
required to take an eyesight test first, and will then still have to pass the eyesight test when you take
your practical car driving test.
To ensure that you are as safe as possible when driving, and to prevent unnecessary accidents,
you should make sure that you get your eyesight checked before you start your driving
lessons. Tell the optician that you are going to learn to drive and ask them whether you are
likely to meet the required vision standards. If you need to wear glasses or contact lenses,
then make sure that you do. Have regular eye tests throughout your adult life, as eyesight
does deteriorate. If your eyesight becomes a problem and you no longer meet the minimum
requirements, you are required to inform the DVLA and surrender your licence. It’s not
about the DVLA being strict – it’s about keeping our roads safe.
To find out more about learning to drive in Glasgow contact TX Driver Training now on 0141 764