Press release

New rules on minimum medical standards for drivers on eyesight and epilepsy

Road Safety Minister Stephen Hammond announces revised minimum driving licence standards for eyesight and epilepsy.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Image of cars on motorway

Revised minimum driving licence standards for eyesight and epilepsy will apply under new rules announced today (6 March 2013) by Road Safety Minister Stephen Hammond.

The changes, which come into force from 8 March, mean that there will be some changes for drivers and riders with epilepsy and to the vision standards required for driving.

Road Safety Minister, Stephen Hammond said:

Road safety is a top priority for the government and our licensing rules play an important part in keeping our roads safe. 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.

These changes strike the right balance in allowing as many people as possible to drive, without compromising safety.

The changes follow a recent 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. In most cases, the UK rules were already at or above the level of the EU minimum standards, although we have clarified UK legislation in respect of a number of standards which were previously specified in guidance to doctors.

The main changes feature below.


Group 2 – buses and lorries

For these drivers, there will be a new relaxed visual acuity standard for the “weaker eye” when each eye is separately examined. Generally eyesight can be weaker in one eye than the other.


Group 1 – cars and motorcycles

For the first time, drivers who have only ever suffered seizures while asleep may now be considered for a licence after 1 year, instead of the current requirement of 3 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 1 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.

Notes to editors

Member States may apply stricter standards than those imposed by the EU.

For Group 2 drivers (buses and lorries), previously, drivers had to demonstrate a visual acuity in the better eye of decimal 0.8 and in the weaker eye of decimal 0.5. The better eye standard has remained as decimal 0.8, while the weaker eye standard has been relaxed to decimal 0.1.

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Published 6 March 2013