Compulsory eye tests for motorists ‘would cut road accidents’

Most drivers surveyed backed compulsory eye tests in a bid to cut road accidents. Picture: PA

Most drivers surveyed backed compulsory eye tests in a bid to cut road accidents. Picture: PA - Credit: PA

Department for Transport figures revealed that 'uncorrected, defective eyesight' was a contributory factor in 232 reported injury-causing road accidents in 2015, 10 of them fatal.

Almost 90% of drivers believe that compulsory eye tests would cut collisions and make Britain's roads safer, latest figures have revealed.

The only current sight assessment for drivers is reading a numberplate from 20 metres during their driving test – a measure that has been not seen significant change for 80 years.

This is despite Department for Transport figures showing that 'uncorrected, defective eyesight' was cited as a contributory factor in 232 reported injury-causing road accidents in 2015, 10 of which were fatal. A further 54 people were seriously injured.

Kevin Clinton, RoSPA's head of road safety, said: 'There are no official statistics for the number of drivers and motorcyclists on the road with eyesight that fails to meet the minimum legal standards, but some studies suggest two to three per cent of drivers have vision below the minimum legal standards.


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'It's essential that drivers meet the legal eyesight standard for driving, otherwise they are putting themselves, their passengers and other road users at risk.'

While motorists are required by law to meet the appropriate eyesight standard or wear corrective measures, a spokesman for the DVLA said that there were currently no plans to introduce compulsory eyesight tests. However, 87% of the survey's 1,097 respondents believe it would lead to safer roads.

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'Introducing compulsory eyesight tests would put the majority of drivers who already ensure they can meet the legal eyesight standards for driving to considerable inconvenience and expense,' said the spokesman.

'The number plate test is a simple and effective assessment of vision and can be reproduced regularly by motorists to check whether they meet the standards themselves and by the police at the roadside.'

Neil Worth, road safety officer at GEM Motoring Assist which undertook the survey, argued that with more older people than ever behind the wheel and an increase in traffic levels, regular testing is vital.

'Even DVLA guidelines to medical professionals state that eyesight can decline gradually and unnoticed, with people losing up to 40% of their visual acuity without being aware of deterioration,' he said.

'The time has come to accept that the current driver eyesight test simply isn't fit for purpose. What's more, it is certainly no longer acceptable for drivers to self-certify.

'The most practical measure would be a test of visual acuity and field of view every 10 years, which would fit in with licence renewal, making it practical and enforceable.'

Do you agree with compulsory eye tests for drivers? Email motoring@archant.co.uk

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