DVLA used Faulty Equipment for Eyesight Test

(Image Source: Flickr)

The DVLA has been in contact with over 600 motorist who failed eyesight test after it came to light that the equipment used to carry out the test was faulty. The licensing agency blamed the manufacturers of the eye testing equipment, which was used by DVLA accredited optometrists between 2010 and 2015, for the problem.


Of the 604 motorist contacted, around 80% who agreed to a retest have since had their licences restored. But some drivers want the DLVA to take full responsibly for the mix up by offering compensation to those affected, many of whom had to sell their cars or pay for public transport.

Derek Harlow, 78, was one of the drivers wrongly banned. When he lost is licence he also lost an important lifeline as he cares for his disabled wife.

“My wife struggles to use public transport and has become progressively housebound for much of the time since then.” he said.

When Mr Harlow was informed of the testing error and invited to be reassessed he was passed as fit to drive and had his licence restored to him.

He went on, “When the initial elation subsided, I felt aggrieved that my life has been disrupted so needlessly,” he says. “I have complained to the DVLA but have received a ‘not-our-fault’ letter obviously encouraging me to take no further action. Surely the DVLA cannot absolve itself of the responsibility having contracted specific opticians to carry out the eye tests on its behalf? I had no choice as to which optician to use.”

Medical Conditions

DVLA rules state that drivers with certain medical conditions must reapply for their driving licence every one to three years and must undergo optical test with optometrist appointed by the DVLA if their condition or treatment changes.

According to the DVLA, less than half of the people affected by the fault have reapplied for their licences, 71 are awaiting reassessment and 232 have not responded.

A DVLA spokesperson said, “As this software issue originated at the point of manufacture and not as a result of any action or inaction by the DVLA, we are not responsible for any losses that might have resulted from the defect.”

Not only has the DVLA rejected liability but they have refused to disclose the name of the company which manufactured the equipment, making it extremely difficult for the drivers affected to make a claim against them.

The problem was only discovered when the DVLA signed a £8m contract with Specsavers to provide its visual field and acuity test over the next 4 years. Specsavers have issued a statement saying that it was due to the new contract that the problem with the equipment was discovered.

“Since being awarded the contract, we have tested nearly 60,000 people on behalf of the DVLA, of which less than 300 were affected by this software issue.

“The software issue has been rectified and Specsavers has taken the decision to replace the machine entirely. Our stores are doing their very best to work with the DVLA to ensure these patients are prioritised and that their new test results are sent to the DVLA for processing as quickly as possible.”