Government revises minimum driving standards

The Government is to introduce revised minimum driving licence standards relating to eyesight and epilepsy later this week.

Ministers have decided to relax certain requirements for all motorists in the UK following the introduction of the European Union's minimum medical standards for drivers.

Britain's minimum driving licence standards already exceed the amended guidelines published by EU, with the UK boasting some of the most stringent rules in Europe.

The changes follow a recent public consultation on the introduction of European minimum medical standards for motorists, which are set to take effect from Friday 8 March.

British car drivers and motorcyclists who have previously suffered seizures in their sleep no longer have to wait three years to apply for a licence and can now be able to apply after one year.

Previous legislation prevented motorists who fall into that category from applying for their driving licence until they are free from these epileptic fits for a period of 12 months.

Bus and lorry drivers in the UK have also had minimum eyesight standards eased, with visual acuity standards being lowered for one eye being stronger than the other.

Despite the downward revisions to minimum driving licence standards in the UK, Transport Minister Stephen Hammond said the decision would not have a negative impact on road safety.

"Road safety is a top priority for the Government and our licensing rules play an important part in keeping our roads safe," said Mr Hammond.

"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."

Last month, Mr Hammond provided police with extended powers to strip drivers of their licence should they fail a roadside eye test.

All motorists stopped by the police are required to read a licence plate from a distance of 20 metres or risk being stripped of their licence within hours if they fail.

The system enables police officers around the UK to inform the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency of eyesight failures electronically so a licence can be revoked.

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