Fleet News

Changes to minimum medical standards for driving 'strike right balance'

Proposed amendments to the minimum medical standards for eyesight and epilepsy for driving ‘strike the right balance’, says the road safety minister.

The proposals include some changes for drivers and riders with epilepsy and to the vision standards required for driving.

There will be no change to the distance from which a number plate must be read to test visual acuity.

Mike Penning, road safety minister, said: “Road safety is a top priority for the Government and our licensing rules have an important role in ensuring that Britain maintains its position as having some of the safest roads in the world.

“We must make sure that only those who are safe to drive do so, while at the same time avoiding placing unnecessary restrictions on people's independence.

"We believe that these changes strike the right balance in allowing as many people as possible to drive, without compromising safety."

Some changes have already been introduced with the vast majority of the new standards expected to come into force later this year.

This follows a public consultation that sought views on the implementation of European minimum medical standards for drivers.

While UK standards must be at least at the level of a minimum standard, the UK is not required to relax existing domestic standards where these are justifiably higher than the EU ones.

The main aspects of the new standards are:

Cars and motorcycles

Eyesight

  • There will be no change to the current distance from which a number plate must be read to test visual acuity. The consultation proposed reducing the distance to 17.5 metres but following further consideration the distance will remain at 20 metres.
  • In addition to the number plate test, new rules recently introduced mean that drivers must also declare that they have never been told that their vision is below that of the EU minimum measurement. Although an optician's certificate is not routinely required a licence will be refused if a formal eye test reveals visual acuity to fall below that of the EU minimum measurement.
  • Lastly, there has been a change to the visual field standard in order to meet the EU minimum requirement.

Epilepsy

  • For the first time, drivers who have only ever suffered seizures while asleep may now be considered for a licence after one year, instead of the current requirement of three years.
  • Additionally, the new rules will allow drivers who have only ever suffered seizures that have no impact on consciousness or the ability to act to apply for a driving licence one year from the date of their first seizure. Currently these drivers can only be licensed if they are free from these seizures for a period of 12 months.
     

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