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C 137 E/156 Official Journal of the European Union EN 12.6.


Answer given by Mr Liikanen on behalf of the Commission

(26 November 2002)

The Commission would refer the Honourable Member to its answer to written P-3064/02 by Mr Lund (1).

(1) See page 152.

(2003/C 137 E/178) WRITTEN QUESTION E-3086/02

by Jonas Sjöstedt (GUE/NGL) to the Commission

(28 October 2002)

Subject: Professional drivers with poor eyesight

Swedish newspapers report that professional drivers with poor eyesight are forced to use contact lenses
instead of spectacles. This has affected some drivers adversely as they are unable to wear lenses for various

The Swedish National Road Administration considers that the rules on vision standards are cumbersome
but that the EU directive must be strictly adhered to and that it is not possible to grant exemptions for
spectacle lenses over eight dioptres. However, the Administration has also said that lawyers and doctors on
the traffic medicine council are gathering arguments to persuade the European Union to raise the limit.

In the Commission’s view, is it possible for the Swedish National Road Administration to grant exemptions
to allow professional drivers to use spectacles which exceed eight dioptres?

Answer given by Mrs de Palacio on behalf of the Commission

(11 December 2002)

As regards driving licences, Council Directive 91/439/EEC was adopted on 29 July 1991 (1) and entered
into force on 1 July 1996. Article 7(1)(a) of that Directive lays down that holders of driving licences must
meet medical standards, in accordance with the provisions of Annex III, which states that any driver in
group 2 must have a visual acuity, with corrective lenses if necessary, of at least 0,8 in the better eye and
at least 0,5 in the worse eye.

Such a defect of vision may be corrected with the aid of contact lenses for any level of correction.
However, where glasses are used, the corrective power could not exceed four dioptres until 1996. Since
10 July 1996, this maximum power has been increased to eight dioptres (2) to take account of scientific

Annex III lays down the minimum standards of physical and mental fitness for driving a power driven
vehicle, which allows Member States to apply stricter standards, but not less rigorous ones. However,
Member States may, with the agreement of the Commission, derogate from the provisions of Annex III
where such derogations are compatible with the development of medical science and with the principles
laid down in that Annex (Article 7(3) of the Directive).

(1) Council Directive 91/439/EEC of 29 July 1991 on driving licences, OJ L 237, 24.8.1991.
(2) Commission Decision 96/427/EC of 10 July 1996 concerning a derogation from the provisions of Annex III of
Council Directive 91/439/EECl, OJ L 175, 13.7.1996.