Road Safety News

Road Safety GB supports call for drivers to have regular eye tests

Wednesday 16th December 2015

Road Safety GB is supporting a leading ophthalmologist who has urged drivers to ensure they have a clear view of the road as winter weather reduces visibility and increases risk.

David Teenan (pictured above), UK medical director at Optical Express*, says that longer nights, low sun and treacherous weather can significantly impede the sight of drivers – causing temporary blindness in some cases.

Optical Express cites a report published in 2012 by the insurer RSA which estimated that 2,900 casualties annually are caused by drivers with poor vision.

David Teenan said: “Good sight is essential for safe driving, especially in the winter months when the weather brings unique vision challenges.

“Visual acuity and contrast are compromised when there is too little light during dull, overcast days or too much light from low winter sun. If drivers can’t see clearly they risk not only their own lives but those of other road users and pedestrians.”

Mr Teenan, who is a fellow of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, added: “There are many simple things that drivers can do to improve their view of the road, such as keeping their windscreens clean and using their vehicle’s sun visors, but it is essential that drivers also undergo regular eye tests to ensure they can see clearly. Changes in eyesight are gradual and it is possible to lose up to 40% of your vision without noticing.

“Most adults should have their eyes tested once every two years but older drivers need to take greater care. As eyesight problems become more prevalent when we get older the vision of older drivers is more likely to be impaired.”

Iain Temperton, Road Safety GB’s director of communications, said: “It is essential that drivers have their eyesight checked on a regular basis and if required wear corrective lenses to ensure their safety and that of other road users.  

“It’s also really important to make sure that the screen wash is topped up and windscreens, windows and lights are clean and free from frost or snow.”

*Optical Express
Optical Express was founded in 1991 and is part of the Optical Express Group. The Group's portfolio includes laser eye surgery, healthcare services and cosmetic surgical and non-surgical treatments, as well as the core optics division of glasses and contact lenses. The Group currently operates in the United Kingdom, United States, Ireland, Croatia, and Germany.



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The eyesight test should be taken at the same time as the theory test, and not just a number plate 'read'. A registered disabled person with sight issues (no peripheral vision) can pass the current test but be a hazard on the road. There needs to be full regular testing of eyesight for all drivers. Night time vision is a particular issue where some drivers, particularly older ones, self regulate and drive in the daylight.
Olly Lancs

Agree (6) | Disagree (1)

I am surprised that I regularly read of ophthalmologists recommending that people shopuld have their eyes tested at least every two years. That is not often enough! I often get learners whose eyesight diminishes from when I first meet them to when they take their test - a period of often less than six months. An annual test is surely the best recommendation, something I have had done for over 45 years due to being short sighted. Fields vision tests should also be considered for all drivers.
Andy, Warwick

Agree (5) | Disagree (1)

In response to Iain, I accept like anyone else that pain, suffering and bereavement are dreadful - indeed I have myself suffered intermittently since 1984 from severe whiplash pain. Nor am I opposed in principle to allocating notional "values" to such things to help decide how much to spend on which road safety policies, But let's not pretend that it is cash saved when it is not!
Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield

Agree (4) | Disagree (3)

In case my first comment was not clear, my objections are to the way this and the 2012 accountant's report treat DfT values of pain and suffering prevented as it they were cash sums that are saved. Even the DfT now warns that they are not and it is not acceptable that anyone should attempt to justify spending money on their pet road safety project, however good it might be in its own right, by claiming the costs would be more than recovered by these imaginary cost savings.

The other aspect is that despite protests from me and others, the DfT still seems not to understand that all account books have two side - income/spending, benefit/cost etc and that if they choose to include as a cost the output that a road user is no longer able to produce after being killed, they should also include as a benefit to the State the value of what he no longer consumes.

As the average age of a road fatility is 43 some 20 years of output is lost but as the average age of death is now about 85, some 40 years consumption disappears. And also that output is no more lost when someone is injured than when he retires, changes his job or is fired - because someone else takes his place. As anyone who has run any sort of business - output is determined by demand and staff numbers respond to demand, not the other way around!

In terms of cost to the state, if everyone died on the roads the day they retire, this saving enormous sums in pensions, health care, care homes etc, those who remain would be much better off, not worse off. I am not proposing that as a policy of course, just pointing out that we should base policies on facts not fiction.
Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield

Agree (4) | Disagree (5)

I would agree with Peter over the Keystone results, although interestingly our referral rate is close to 30%, perhaps because of the rurality of our audience. It seems a basic concept and message, defective eyesight is an issue, but one that can be easily corrected in most cases. As for Idris' elephant in the room, I would politely remind him that the economic argument does not feature strongly when dealing with family members who have lost a loved one in a preventable incident.
Iain Temperton

Agree (10) | Disagree (2)

Yet another example of professional economists missing the elephant in the room.

Well over 50% of the supposed savings when accidents are prevented are notional values, not cash at all, and therefore should not be used in benefit/cost analysis as if they were cash savings.

The estimates of "lost output" include what people killed on the roads can no longer produce, but are not offset by the probably larger figures for what they no longer consume.

And neither the output of those killed or injured takes into account the output of those who take their places when those vacancies arise!
Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield

Agree (2) | Disagree (7)

Interesting. Over the last 3 years some eyesight checks carried out in central London using the Keystone vision screener show about 17% being referred to an optician and many of them cyclists.

If you take Failed to look properly and refer to the word look it can mean search or to use ones eyesight in a given direction. Many other definitions don't mention the word see. To see is to perceive with the eye or detect by means of looking. As an ex art teacher I was both trained and taught both to look and see which are not the same thing.
Peter Westminster

Agree (15) | Disagree (0)

Excellent and wise advice, but it must be remembered that it's perceptual blindness that kills and injures far more people than optical blindness ever will.

By far the biggest listed accident cause in Stats19 is 'failed to look properly' yet what does failed to look properly actually mean? I would suggest that most people assume that a failure to look properly is the result of either carelessness at best or a deliberate act at worst and yet (no pun intended) there is far more to looking than meets the eye.

The huge amount of research on vision and perception paints a very different picture to the commonly held beliefs and points instead to a very wide range of perceptual blindnesses that are often far beyond any form of conscious control. As Marc Green said "Everyone is blind to almost everything during every single moment of every day. Most people falsely believe that they seldom experience such blindness because they are unaware of being unaware".
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (6) | Disagree (1)

The original report is here:

Accidents are based mainly on experiments and modelling, plus the DfT's arguable 'costs' and theoretical 'values' are used.

It's worth remembering that drivers are already required by law to be fit to drive, including eyesight - obviously any illness or disability that affects driving ability is notifiable. One of my relatives and her 2 children were run down by a disorientated older, unfit driver with very poor eyesight. Fortunately the injures were minor.
Paul Biggs, Tamworth

Agree (10) | Disagree (1)

The faster we travel as individual road users the more important it is to have good eyesight. The blind or partially-sighted are not prevented from using our highways as pedestrians, as their disability is not going to harm anyone else, however they are extremely vulnerable themselves, so it is our responsibililty as the faster-moving (wheeled) road users, to make sure our eyesight is up to the job and we can spot them (or any vulnerable road users) in good time - day or night.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (14) | Disagree (3)

I think everyone, not just drivers, should have their eyesight tested regularly - it's surely important that pedestrians and cyclists have good vision too? From an accident point of view - poor observation (failed to look properly) is the main problem - it doesn't matter how good your eyesight is, if you don't actually look properly. On the STATS 19 form, Code 405 is 'failed to look properly,' Code 504 is 'uncorrected, defective eyesight.' For pedestrians only, there is no code for defective eyesight, there is only 'Disability or illness, mental or physical,' which is Code 810. I don't know which factor codes were used to produce the 2,900 casualties figure. Legally, of course, you are allowed to drive with only one eye - monocular vision.
Paul Biggs, Tamworth

Agree (14) | Disagree (2)