GEM says ‘eye’ to sight tests

Optometrist Prof Steve Taylor talks about how eyesight changes with age on The Still Safe to Drive w

Optometrist Prof Steve Taylor talks about how eyesight changes with age on The Still Safe to Drive website, funded by GEM Motoring Assist Road Safety Charity. - Credit: supplied

Road safety organisation GEM Motoring Assist is calling on the government to introduce compulsory detailed eyesight testing for all drivers every 10 years, saying it would cut collisions and make roads safer.

Chief executive David Williams said: 'We are worried that a large number of drivers have not had their eyes tested for many years – and some have never had a test.

'We believe it is unacceptable to operate a system where a driver can read a number plate aged 17 and carry on driving for 50 years or more without any eyesight check.'

The 'number plate' eyesight test was introduced to the driving test in 1937 and has only been amended in minor ways over the years to reflect changing plate sizes. It is the only eyesight test drivers are required to undertake until they are 70.

GEM says the test is crude and outdated, as it only measures visual acuity (sharpness). It could also quite easily examine a driver's field of view, as in many American states, to check if drivers can see and react to what's happening around them.

Mr Williams added: 'As more and more people are staying behind the wheel into their 80s and beyond, the need for mandatory eyesight testing has never been more pressing.'

The Still Safe to Drive (www.stillsafetodrive.org.uk) website, funded by the GEM Motoring Assist Road Safety Charity, maintains a video library which includes an interview with optometrist Prof Steve Taylor on how our eyesight alters with age.

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Do you need glasses or contact lenses to drive safely? How often do you have your eyes tested? Email motoring@archant.co.uk