You are legally able to drive in glasses even if they aren’t listed on your licence. (ABC News)
Taking a driving test is one of the great moments of high anxiety in a young person’s life, and the last thing anyone needs is something to make it even more stressful.
Which is why my daughter’s experience with this rite of passage is destined to become family legend.
I recently accompanied her to our local Transport and Main Roads (TMR) branch in Brisbane for the test.
What happened next left both of us gobsmacked and speechless.
My daughter (who shall remain nameless) had spent many more than the required 100 learner hours behind the wheel to qualify her for the test.
In all that time, not once had she driven without her glasses.
But her TMR tester informed us that because spectacles were not listed as a condition on her learner’s licence, she could not wear them during the test.
My daughter raised her eyebrow, looked searchingly at me and simply said “OK then” — they drove away before there was time to query the point.
So the first time she drove without her glasses was the moment she took her driving test.
The Government does not necessarily need to know if you wear glasses when you drive. (ABC News: Nick Wiggins)
It felt as if the risk of her failing had just risen sharply, but to her enormous credit she passed the test and received her provisional licence.
“Honestly, the pressure I was putting on myself was worse than driving without my glasses on,” she said afterward.
We asked for an “S” (for spectacles) to be placed on her provisional licence, now believing this was a requirement.
I was about to request the same be done to my own licence when another, more senior officer at the branch intervened to say this was not actually required and that the tester had been misinformed.
We figured that if she could pass a test without her glasses, she did not need that “S”.
‘It’s not an offence’
What are the rules in other states?
- NSW: You need to pass an eyesight test and if glasses are needed it will be listed as a condition on your licence
- ACT: You need to tell Access Canberra if any illness, injury, or incapacity may impair your driving ability
- Vic: You must tell VicRoads if you have, or develop, a visual impairment that could affect your driving and might need a condition on your licence
- Tas: If you have a visual impairment you’re legally required to tell the Registrar of Motor Vehicles
- SA: People who need glasses must have it listed as a condition on their licence. Learners getting their first licence need an “eyesight certificate”
- WA: If you need glasses to drive you need to notify the Transport Department so it can be added to your licence
- NT: You need to pass an eye test if applying for a licence for the first time
It’s best to check with the agency that handles licences in your state to make sure you’re meeting the requirements.
Because there is no longer eye testing for licences in Queensland, the onus is on you to have your vision checked.
But a TMR spokesperson confirmed it was legal to wear glasses without having it as a condition on your licence.
“For example, a person may not need corrective lens because their eyesight is not considered sufficiently poor to pose any risk, but they may wear them for their own peace of mind,” the spokesperson said.
“An S condition is added to a licence where glasses must always be worn when driving to correct poor vision.
“It is not an offence for a person without an S condition on their licence to wear glasses.”
Campbell Fuller from the Insurance Council of Australia said car insurance firms did not require notification from drivers who wear glasses.
Drivers are encouraged to consult an optometrist if they feel they need to wear glasses while driving. (ABC News)
“One of the key conditions on insurance is that you’re legally capable of driving and adhering to relevant state laws,” Mr Fuller said.
“You don’t have to notify your insurance company that you wear glasses.”
‘Take advice from an optometrist’
RACQ head of technical and safety policy Steve Spalding urged people to seek proper advice on the need to wear glasses while driving.
“RACQ recommends drivers who wear spectacles or contact lenses take advice from their optometrist about whether they are needed or not for driving as in some cases their eyesight may not be below the minimum standard,” he said.
“Drivers must also ensure they comply with any conditions marked on their licence and notify Transport and Main Roads of any changes over time.”
The TMR spokesperson also urged anyone who felt their eyesight would be improved with glasses to discuss it with a GP or optometrist.
“If their GP or optometrist determines they should wear glasses while driving, they must then report this to TMR,” the spokesperson said.
“Motorists with a vision or eye disorder that cannot be corrected by wearing corrective lenses are required to provide TMR with a medical certificate for Motor Vehicle Driver.”
Queensland motorists could be fined $53 and lose one demerit point for failing to comply with an S condition.