Road Safety News

Drivers should face compulsory eye tests - AoP

Thursday 16th November 2017

Drivers should have to prove their vision ‘meets the legal standard’ every 10 years, rather than only when they initially take the driving test, according to the Association of Optometrists (AoP).

The AoP, which has recently launched a new campaign titled ‘Don’t Swerve a sight test’, says one in three optometrists have seen patients in the last month who continue to drive with vision below the legal standard.

AoP research also suggests that just 40% of drivers would stop driving if they were told their vision, even with glasses or contact lenses, was below the legal standard for driving.

The AoP campaign, timed to coincide with Road Safety Week 2017, calls for drivers to have a sight test every two years to ‘maximise their eye health’ and ‘help reduce the risk of accidents on UK roads’.

Figures from the DfT shows seven people were killed, and 63 seriously injured, in collisions last year in which ‘uncorrected, defective eyesight’ was identified as a contributory factor.

However, AoP points to figures which suggest that approximately 2,900 road casualties are caused by poor vision every year.

At present, motorists must read a number plate from 20m (65ft) during the practical driving test - but there is no follow-up check. Motorists are also required to self-report to the DVLA if they subsequently develop eyesight problems.

Optometrist Dr Julie Anne-Little told BBC News that Britain ‘falls behind many other countries’ with regard to the regulation of drivers’ eyesight.

Dr Anne-Little said: "Because sight changes can be gradual, often people don't realise that their vision has deteriorated over time.”

Category: Fit to drive.




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Thinking about this further, what the number plate test shows is that you can read something in the centre of your vision. So someone with quite severe tunnel vision could pass that test. They would be unlikely to pass a driving test due to the issues it would raise but just asking someone at a Post Office counter to read the number plate on the wall would prove very little. There are other eye conditions that would also enable a pass when the driver did not have vision suitable for driving. So the only safe way is to have a professional test for vision and that could even save someone's eyesight as well as well as someone's life or preventing life changing injuries. £16 every two years is peanuts!
Mark, Caerphilly

Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

At its absolute minimum the scheme could be reading a number plate equivalent in the post office when you renew your picture card license. Lots of higher range options also exist, but it is surely a high priority in any safe system.
peter, liverpool

Agree (0) | Disagree (2)

I feel everyone should have an eye test at least every three years. Once a driver reaches the age of 70 a licence MUST be renewed every three years. The application form, manual and on line should ask the question: "Have you had an eye test within the last (either 2 or 3) years? This should be a legal requirement and become a legal document. This should also apply to those under 70 but perhaps every 4 or 5 years. DVLA already have access to MOT and Insurance details so adding another item to the system should not be too much hassle. How many lives and severe injured people could be saved?
M.Brewer. Wetherby, West Yorkshire

Agree (4) | Disagree (1)

I am agreeing with Derek, but would add all drivers. The cost of an eye test is as low as £16 or even free, and definitely free if you are over 60. If you need glasses then you need glasses and so the cost element is not really a reason to suggest it is unfair. Also this would be once every two years.

However the cost of glasses can, for single vision suitable for driving, be as low as £45. Compared to the costs of owning and running a car these figures are miniscule.
Mark, Caerphilly

Agree (5) | Disagree (1)

Hole (2007) has pointed out that "drivers become safer after the age of 40 or so, which is precisely the age at which visual performance (in terms of acuity, contrast sensitivity, and glare recovery) starts to decline."

Seems there's more to this than meets the eye.
Andrew Fraser, STIRLING

Agree (6) | Disagree (1)

With regard to the DFt figures re-uncorrected, defective eyesight as contributory factors, did that come from an admission by those involved, or are roadside eye-sight tests now being carried out at collision scenes? Is the oft heard claim "I just didn't see the other car/cyclist/pedestrian!" being taken too literally?
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (7) | Disagree (0)

Regular eyesight testing could become a mandatory requirement for drivers to obtain insurance cover with a database linked to licence number. The scheme costs and the benefits from the reduced accident claims would be borne by the driver/insurers.
Derek Hertfordshire

Agree (7) | Disagree (4)