The list of changes – some of which have already been introduced – follow a consultation earlier this year on the implementation of European minimum medical standards for drivers. WhileUKstandards must be at least at the level of a minimum standard, theUKis not required to relax existing domestic standards where these are justifiably higher than those set by the European Union.
There will be some changes for drivers and riders with epilepsy and to the vision standards required for driving. However, here will be no change to the distance from which a number plate must be read to test visual acuity.
Road Safety Minister Mike Penning, 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.’
The main aspects of the new standards are:
Eyesight cars and motorcycles:
- Drivers must declare that they have never been told that their vision is below that of the European Union 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 European Union minimum measurement.
- A change to the visual field standard in order to meet the European Union minimum requirement.
Eyesight buses and lorries:
- For these drivers, in addition to meeting the standards for Group 1 (cars and motorcycles, higher standards apply which means if glasses are used to meet the standards required in either eye the strength of those glasses cannot exceed a certain limit.
Epilepsy cars and motorcycles:
- 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.