Under 50% of motorists aware they must read number plate from 20 metres, figures show

The agency has found that just 48.5% of drivers it surveyed were aware of this essential eyesight requirement.
Now, with more drivers set to resume their daily commutes, undertake the school run, and traffic returning to pre-pandemic levels, the agency is calling on drivers to ensure they take the 20-metre number plate test.

The test aims to ensure that all drivers meet the minimum eyesight standards before getting behind the wheel.

The call to action is part of the agency’s Number Plate Test campaign, which aims to remind drivers that the test is an easy way to regularly self-check their eyesight. It also reminds them they should have their eyes tested at least every two years or as soon as they notice any changes to their vision.

The number plate test is quick and easy to take, and DVLA is offering examples of how to measure the 20-metre distance, which it says is the same as five car lengths, or the width of eight parking bays.

The agency is urging anyone with concerns about their eyesight to visit their optician for an eye test.

Lynette Rose, Director of Strategy, Policy and Communications at DVLA said:

The number plate test is a simple and effective way for motorists to check their eyesight meets the required standard for driving which includes reading a number plate clearly from 20 metres.

Anyone can do the test at any time. Twenty metres is typically around the length of five cars parked next to each other – you can test yourself on whether you can clearly read a number plate of the furthest car.

Having good eyesight is essential for safe driving, so it’s really important for motorists to have regular eye tests.
Eyesight can naturally deteriorate over time so anyone concerned about their eyesight should visit their optician – don’t wait for your next check-up.

On the importance of the campaign, Glaucoma UK said they supported DVLA’s vital call to drivers to check their eyesight. Joanna Bradley, Head of Support Services at the charity, said:

Everyone should have regular eye tests, at least every two years, so that your optician can check the health of your eyes. It is vital that if you recognise changes in your eyesight in the meantime, you visit an optician as soon as possible.

Many people may have seen changes to their vision over the past year and may have missed a test due to the pandemic.

We’d urge anyone with concerns not to delay getting tested as their vision could get worse.

We support the DVLA’s Number Plate Test campaign and its crucial safety message, and we hope this will raise awareness of the importance of regular testing among the public.

Get more information on the minimum eyesight standards for driving.


  • DVLA’s Motoring Survey polled 1,623 in July, 744 were aware you needed to read a number plate from 20 metres, 322 thought it was 15 metres, 454 thought is was 25 metres, and 103 didn’t know how many metres away they needed to be.
  • Drivers must be able to read (with glasses or contact lenses, if necessary) a car number plate made after 1 September 2001 from 20 metres.
  • Drivers must be able to meet the minimum eyesight standards for driving:
  • If a driver has to wear glasses or contact lenses for driving, they must wear them every time they drive.
  • DVLA publishes its advice to medical professionals – including opticians and optometrists – to help them assess their patients’ fitness to drive.

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