At the age of 17, many teenagers are considering learning to drive, and hoping to become a car owner. I am sure that anyone who remembers their first driving experiences will agree it is mentally exhausting, so much to remember, so much to get right. And whilst cars may have become safer and more technologically advanced, learning to drive is no easier.
Before even sending off for a Provisional Driving Licence a potential learner driver should book an eye test. (If they suspect their vision may not be good enough to read a number plate at 20.5 metres and are still in full-time education the GOS will pay for this – otherwise expect to pay a private sight-test fee).
BY LAW all car drivers must be able to pass 'the number plate test' and be able to see the 6/12 line of a Snellen test chart.
Young drivers should ask if they have 'normal' colour vision. Colour vision defects are not a bar to driving but drivers who are less sensitive to red lights need to be aware that, for instance in foggy conditions they may find it more difficult to see rear brake lights.
Safe driving depends on more than just good acuity (central vision) but also on good peripheral awareness. Together they form the UFoV (useful field of view) which is how a driver first becomes aware of any potential hazards, click here for some fun exercises to improve your peripheral awareness.
Increasingly good ADI's (professionally trained, qualified and Approved Driving Instructors) are realising that not all student drivers should be taught in the same way. Drivers who have Specific Learning Disabilities (such as dyslexia, ADHD or ASD) can be safe drivers but may need to be encouraged to think things through and learn driving skills using appropriate strategies that are tailored to their own unique styles. For more information about driving and learning to drive click here.
Once a driver has passed their driving test it becomes their responsibility to make sure they can always see the legal minimum for safe driving. The DVLA expects drivers to check for themselves that they can 'pass the number plate test', and if they can not then they must have a sight test. Drivers unable to read the 6/12 line of a Snellen Test Chart, must notify the DVLA
Always remember you may think you will see them, but they might not see you!