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© content copyright Sussex Safer Roads 2014

Safer for drivers

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There are many different factors which can affect a person's ability to drive - eyesight and fatigue are just two of them.

Driver Eyesight

Are your eyes fit for the road?

A frequent statement from road users after a crash is “I didn’t see it”.

Drivers and riders of motorised vehicles should know that they are required to be able to read a standard number plate with symbols 79.4mm high and 57mm wide at a distance of 20.5 m (67 feet), or where a new style number plate is used with characters 50mm wide, at a distance of 20 metres, using correcting lenses if required.

Any driver who thinks their eyesightdoes not meet the legal requirements must tell the licensing agency immediately. It is a criminal offence to fail to notify the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) of any eyesight conditions likely to cause a driver to be a source of danger to other road users.

If a driver is involved in an accident and is then found to have an undeclared notifiable disability, insurance cover could be at risk. However, having a notifiable eyesight condition does not necessarily mean that you will be banned from driving.

The recommended time between eye tests is 2 years but if you feel that you are having any problems with vision have it checked immediately.

If you think you have a notifiable eyesight condition you must write to: The Drivers’ Medical Branch, DVLA, Swansea SA99 1TU.

Driver Fatigue

Have you ever felt drowsy while driving? If the answer is yes, read on…

A high proportion of crashes on high-speed roads is possibly caused by driver fatigue.

You do not have to be tired to fall asleep. Even drivers who are well rested can become drowsy at certain times of the day. Our biological clock makes us particularly susceptible to tiredness in the early hours of the morning and at mid-afternoon.

Some medicines and alcohol can greatly reduce a driver’s ability to stay awake.

Research has shown that… 

  • There is no excuse for dozing off – we are always aware that we are becoming drowsy and always have time to react.
  • It is impossible to force yourself to stay awake. Even the thought of dying as a result of a crash is not enough to stop you falling asleep.
  • Opening windows, turning up the volume on the radio or simply getting out of the car have very little effect.


Is there an answer? YES

Plan your journey to include a break of at least 15 minutes in every 2 hours.
At the first signs of drowsiness pull off the road at a safe place (not the hard shoulder of a motorway). Do not be tempted to keep going. The safest solution is not to continue with the journey until you have had a proper rest.  If you have only a short way to go you may get temporary relief by…

1. First drinking two cups of coffee (not de-caffeinated) or a high caffeine drink.

2. Then taking a short nap – 10-15 minutes only – longer may make you feel even sleepier.

Research indicates this is the most effective way to gain TEMPORARY relief from drowsiness.

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