As obvious as it may sound, it’s vital to the safety of all concerned that you can see clearly when driving your motorhome. And that means wearing driving glasses if you need them. With 59% of people in the UK needing to wear glasses to correct their vision, we’re guessing that a good few of them also own motorhomes.
If you’re one of them, then this quick guide has lots of tips to help you keep on the right side of the law and safe on the roads. Indeed, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA) estimates around 2,900 casualties are caused by poor driver vision each year. That’s a lot of accidents that could easily be prevented with one quick fix – wear your glasses when driving!
The right driving glasses are just one of the crucial things you need before you set off on your motorhome adventures. Motorhome insurance is a vital part of the puzzle, too. Let Motorhome Protect find the right cover for you.
Here are our top tips for staying safe on the roads if you’re a glasses wearer…
- Know the standard of eyesight required for driving
Just like any other motorist, motorhome drivers must be able to do three things to meet the standards of vision for driving. According to the DVLA’s driving eyesight rules you must:
- Be able to read (with glasses or contact lenses, if necessary) a standard new style car number plate at a distance of 20 metres.
- Need to have a visual acuity of at least decimal 0.5 (6/12) measured on the Snellen scale using both eyes together or, if you have sight in one eye only, in that eye.
- Have an adequate field of vision.
Your optician will be able to test for all three of these factors and give you more information at an eye test.
Driving with eyesight below the minimum legal standard could leave you facing a fine of up to £1,000, three penalty points on your licence or even disqualification. It’s just not worth the risk, particularly if you cause an accident that hurts you or another person. Causing death by dangerous driving can lead to a hefty prison sentence as well as feelings of life-long guilt.
- Book in regular eye tests
No matter how many years ago, every driver will have been subjected to a quick eye test at the beginning of their official driving test. This will have involved correctly reading a number plate on a parked vehicle from 20 metres away. If you got it wrong after three attempts, then you'll have failed the entire test immediately.
But meeting this test doesn’t end your responsibilities when it comes to your vision and driving. In particular, if you need glasses to meet the driving standards then you MUST continue to wear them whenever you drive.
It’s also important to remember eyesight often deteriorates over time – indeed it can often be almost too slow to notice. That’s why it’s advisable to have your eyes tested at least every two years, or straight away if you notice a problem.
If you’re finding it difficult to read road signs as fast as you used to, it could be a warning sign that your distance vision has deteriorated and you may require stronger lenses. Another warning sign is if you find it harder to see in the dark. Again this might mean you need to wear glasses when driving or get a stronger prescription.
If you’re an older driver aged over 70 then you’ll have to declare when renewing your licence whether your eyesight still meets the minimum legal standards. While you don’t need to produce evidence of this, if you’re later involved in an accident where poor eyesight was a contributing factor then you could be held responsible.
- Declare vision problems to the DVLA
If you have any problems with your eyes, or the remaining eye if you have only one, then you must tell the DVLA if you no longer meet the standards of vision for driving. This doesn’t include being long or short sighted or colour-blind.
If you’re not sure if you need to tell the DVLA about your sight, check their A to Z of medical conditions that could affect your driving. Certain medical conditions can mean having to give up your driving licence altogether. If you don’t, the consequences can be severe as you could be fined up to £1,000. You may also be prosecuted if you’re involved in an accident as a result of your eyesight problem.
There are a number of health conditions that could affect your eyesight and therefore your ability to drive. These include:
- Diabetic retinopathy
- Age-related macular degeneration
- Optic atrophy
- Optic neuritis
- Tunnel vision
- Visual field defects
- Reduced visual acuity
- Take care to keep yourself covered by your motorhome insurance
If you drive your motorhome without your glasses then your hazard perception will be affected and you could be more likely to be involved in a collision or accident. In view of the size of many motorhomes these incidents could be potentially very serious.
But at the same time, failing to wear the appropriate driving glasses may also invalidate your insurance policy. So, if damages or injuries occur then you may lose your ability to make an insurance claim – leaving yourself open to financial and legal implications.
According to a recent survey of 1,000 drivers nearly one in five admitted to driving without wearing the correct eyewear! A shocking number indeed.
Our advice? To keep your motorhome covered, always wear your glasses for driving if you need them. And make sure the prescription is up to date.
- Don’t be tempted by an inappropriate frame
Any trip to the opticians will present you with a bewildering array of frame choices from many fashionable brands. From Gucci to Prada and from Ray-ban to Persol when browsing for a new-season set there’s plenty to satisfy even the pickiest person.
However, when choosing your frames for driving, remember safety has to be your number one priority. Not only will you want properly fitting, sturdy frames but you’ll also need to consider the design. In particular, try to avoid anything with extremely broad or chunky arms. These can easily restrict your hazard perception by blocking the edges of your peripheral vision. This blinkered effect can make driving more dangerous and needs to be considered before you make your final choice.
Choosing frames with a thinner more elegant construction will let you see more clearly around the frames. This is especially important for drivers of motorhomes who already have slightly restricted vision due to the size of the vehicle. When switching lanes on a motorway or dual carriageway you need all the view you can get!
- Choose the best type of glasses for driving
Clearly, the best type of glasses for driving will depend on the individual. But there are some important matters that need to be taken into account when deciding on the perfect pair. When you’re driving it’s important that two vision zones, in particular, are always accurate
These are intermediate vision (anything at around arm’s length such as your sat nav and dashboard instruments) and distance vision (pretty much everything on the road ahead or behind you).
Depending on your prescription the best driving glasses will boost either one or both of these areas.
Varifocals are a very common lens-type for driving glasses as they can correct both intermediate and distance vision all in one pair. This is particularly useful for drivers who won’t want to switch between pairs while driving!
Be aware, if you haven’t worn them before they can take some getting used to. So, if you’re heading off in your motorhome it’s better to wear them for some time beforehand. It can take anywhere between a few hours to a few days to become used to them. But for safety’s sake it’s worth the time.
If you plan to use varifocals for driving then speak to your optician as some are tailored specifically for this use. For example, Specsavers SuperDrive varifocal lenses feature a 180-degree distance vision area and a wide, upper intermediate area for road and wing mirror use. Perfect for reducing the need for head movement.
You might also consider various coatings on your driving glasses. Some coatings are both anti-reflection and scratch-resistant as well as being water-repellent, smudge-resistant and anti-static. Anything that stays cleaner for longer and reduces distractions when driving should be seriously considered.
Polarised lenses are also considered to be a good option for driving on bright days. Reducing glare from surfaces such as roads, water and snow, while also offering 100% UV protection and helping ease the strain on your eyes. These could be worth the investment.
- Beware of wearing some types of glasses when driving
Tinted lenses are popular among spectacle wearers, however, ROSPA says they can potentially cause problems when driving at night or in conditions of poor visibility. This is because the tint reduces the amount of visible light reaching your eyes, making it more difficult to see.
However, not all tints are the same and there are many different colours and densities. With tints varying from 80-100% light transmission (clear) to 3-8% (very dark) you need to be guided by the advice of your optician or ophthalmologist.
If you’re looking at photochromic (variable tint) lenses, then be aware that some only react to UV light. These are unsuitable because car windscreens filter out UV which limits the reaction of the lenses. Check with your optician to find lenses that react to visible light as well as UV. This will ensure they adapt to the changing light conditions when driving.
Finally, be careful if your glasses have an ‘anti-blue-light’ coating. Designed to reduce tiredness caused by digital screens, this coating might interfere with your night vision.
- Avoid headlight glare with the right coatings
Oncoming or trailing headlights and even road lighting can create additional difficulties if you’re wearing glasses. The glare produced by the lights can bounce off your lenses and cause distraction. It can also lead to increased eye strain and even cause you to miss potential dangers.
To help deal with this, you can choose an anti-glare or anti-reflective coating which reduces reflections and lets more light pass through your lenses. This improves your vision in low light conditions.
- Don’t let cool sunglasses get in the way of safety
On bright sunny days when you’re heading off in your beloved motorhome, wearing sunglasses is not only great for driving but also for feeling that holiday vibe. However, don’t let that feeling get in the way of a safe journey. When it’s overcast, in the early morning or late in the evening, put away the sunnies and get out your normal driving glasses.
Indeed some sunglasses sold for general use are too dark for driving no matter how bright the day!
- Check your glasses before travelling to Europe
One of the great things about owning a motorhome is you can simply drive onto a ferry and drive on over to Europe almost on a whim. However, if you need glasses for driving then it’s worth checking the rules in the countries you’re passing through. For example, in Spain and Switzerland, if you wear prescription glasses, you must always carry a spare set. While countries such as Italy, Turkey, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria all require a higher standard of eyesight than in the UK.
Protecting your vehicle with motorhome insurance cover
Whether it’s for driving glasses or for insurance, getting professional advice is always important. That’s why it's worth speaking to the knowledgeable team of insurance specialists at Motorhome Protect as soon as possible about your insurance needs. From bumps and scrapes to breakdowns, it’s impossible to rule out everything that could go amiss when you hit the road.
Using our panel of trusted insurers, we’ll search out the best motorhome insurance, tailored to your vehicle, needs and budget.
Our cover can include benefits such as:
- Cover for vehicles valued up to £150,000
- Cover for camping personal effects up to £3,000
- Discounts if you’re a member of a motorhome club
Call Motorhome Protect and get a quick quote for motorhome insurance today.
Policy benefits, features and discounts offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.