07 Sep Is your Eyesight good enough?
Police forces in England are cracking down on motorists who fail roadside eyesight tests.
If you’re stopped by police and can’t read a number plate from 20 metres, officers can revoke your licence.
During September, the Hampshire, West Midlands and Thames Valley forces will be exercising their power to request an urgent licence revocation through the DVLA if they deem that a motorist poses a risk to the safety of other road users.
Police believe that thousands of drivers with sub-standard eyesight are using public roads daily and this intervention will help cull the numbers of dangerous drivers and provide invaluable data for the scheme.
Sgt Rob Heard, from the Hampshire force, said: “Not being able to see a hazard or react to a situation quickly enough can have catastrophic consequences.”
He also added that eyesight checks would be carried out “at every opportunity”.
The call for regular eye tests for drivers has been echoed around the UK, Chief of Optometry Wales Sali Davies, said opticians are being put in an “uncomfortable” position as it is up to patients to self-refer to the DVLA.
‘In most cases, doctors and opticians advise the driver not to get behind the wheel, but it is the duty of the driver to inform the DVLA their eyesight is no longer good enough to drive safely’.
The optical health regulator said it was considering new guidance.
Sight tests are already a regular procedure for forces across Wales.
Research by the Association of Optometrists published in November last year found that more than a third (35%) of optometrists saw patients in the previous month who continued to drive despite being told their vision was below the legal standard.
A 2012 study by insurance firm RSA estimated that poor vision caused 2,874 casualties in a year.
Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for road safety charity Brake, said: “It stands to reason that good eyesight is fundamental to safe driving, yet our current licensing system does not do enough to protect us from drivers with poor vision. It is frankly madness that there is no mandatory requirement on drivers to have an eye test throughout the course of their driving life, other than the disproven 20m number plate test when taking the driving test. Only by introducing rigorous and professional eye tests can we fully tackle the problem of unsafe drivers on our roads.”