What to expect at the traffic department

By Sonja Moolman - B.Optom (RAU)

We all know, going to the traffic department is a daunting experience and even though it happens only every 5 years, it always seem to creep up unexpectedly.

So many patients come to us (Spectacle Warehouse, optometrists) hysterically… “They said I am blind, and I cannot get my licence, I am the only person who can drive in our household, and everyone is relying on me… “

I have recently gone through the whole process after losing my purse with my licence in it, so I can tell you exactly what to expect.

  • First you have to press your forehead to their eye test machine to be tested for your distance vision, the visual is however as close as your computer screen. This can be confusing, and you would think to put on your readers, but please don’t, just use your distance spectacles if necessary.

  • You will now view a tumbling “E” as you look into the eye test equipment (machine). Use the lever to indicate the direction in which the “E” ‘s legs are pointing. The “size of the “E” will become smaller, take your time and try to go as far as possible, don’t

  • guess, close and open your eyes a few times, relax and try it again. The lever is very sensitive, if you do feel you made a mistake, speak up and tell the examiner, to avoid failing.

The second part is a light also flickering either left or right, up, down, but you are looking with both eyes and this can be somewhat difficult to distinguish where the light is coming from. Just stay calm and again speak up if you don’t see anything ask them to repeat if you struggle.

Take your time, don’t feel rushed, you probably sat in a row for quite a while to get to this point.

** If you do fail, don’t panic, you can go to any optometrist and get a driver’s licence certificate. We do a VA screening and can tell you exactly what you need to do. **

There are two outcomes if you fail your eye test at the traffic department and have a screening done

at your optometrist:

1. If you fail the optometrist screening and a full eye exam is advised: 

During the test it will reveal that you might need spectacles for driving. This is not the end of the world, as it would help you to have better vision on the road. It would also help your depth perception and make it easier to judge distances. You will then be issued with a certificate and a prescription for spectacles which you should take to the traffic department. They will issue your licence, valid for driving with spectacles.

2. Most people pass the screening at their optometrist easily. We then issue you with a certificate which can be presented at the traffic department to issue your licence without any restrictions.

What I have also learned is, some of the traffic departments are open over weekends. I went at around 11 am on a Saturday and the process was quick and seamless.

Keep up to date with your driver’s licence don’t let it expire!!!