Driving Charity Calls For Mandatory Eyesight Checks

Brake Seeks More Rigorous Testing For Drivers


Motoring charity Brake has called for the introduction of new legislation to make regular eyesight tests for drivers mandatory, in order to cut the number of accidents caused by poor vision.

It issued the call in response to a survey it carried out in conjunction with Specsavers and an insurance group, which showed the idea has widespread public support. It found 87 per cent of respondents believed drivers should have an eyesight test every ten years as a condition of the renewal of their licence or photo card.

Brake said research has shown 2,900 accidents are caused by poor eyesight each year, a number such testing would cut.

The study found 25 per cent of motorists admitted they had gone more than two years without an eyesight test, which Brake noted is significant as people can lose up to 40 per cent of their eyesight capacity without noticing the difference.

Of those who do not currently wear glasses or lenses, a third admitted they do not know their eyesight level for certain as they did not have a test in the past two years. Perhaps worse still, 12 per cent have gone at least five years without a test and four per cent have never had their eyes checked at all.

Brake noted the only current test in place - that of number plate recognition at 20 metres distance - does not test the extent of the field of vision or contrast sensitivity.

Commenting on the survey, Brake deputy chief executive Julie Townsend said: "Making sure your vision is up to scratch is crucial to safe driving and though it may seem there are plenty of excuses to put off going to the opticians, none is good enough when it comes to putting people's lives at risk.

"If you drive, it's not just your own health you are jeopardising by neglecting your eyesight, but the lives of those around you."

Contact lens users may be among those with the most reliable eyesight for driving, as they will be checked more frequently than those who only wear glasses.

Expert Opinion
Getting behind the wheel with limited eyesight not only puts the driver at risk, but also other road users and pedestrians. Any steps that can reduce the number of accidents caused by poor eyesight should be taken to improve road safety for all.

“This is a very sensible call to action and there needs to be a careful rethink of measures relating to retesting of vision and indeed the standards that need to be obtained for the driving test.

“These figures relating to eye checks are very concerning and highlight the need for action to be taken. Rather than a piecemeal approach it would be good if the Government could generally review the requirements of licensing to drive as there have been other sensible proposals that need looking at in the recent past around young and inexperienced drivers, longer provisional licensing and older drivers. The whole issue of licensing safe drivers should be looked at afresh.”
Neil Whiteley, Partner