With road safety being one of the most important topics in the UK, new measures are being introduced to decrease the chances of an accident. Police have launched a campaign that deals with drivers who have poor vision. Motorists pulled over during September will be given an eye test on the spot, requiring them to read a number plate from 65 feet (20 metres). Anyone who fails the test will have their driving licence revoked.
The initiative is being carried out by Hampshire, Thames Valley and West Midlands forces. Road safety charity Brake and opticians Vision Express are supporting it. The crackdown comes after a recent incident with a 87-year-old driver narrowly avoiding a police car when he turned the wrong way on the main road. After failing the eye test, the driver voluntarily gave up his licence. Police reported that he could only read a number plate from 24 feet away. The legal requirement is a distance of 67 feet.
Police do have the authority to request an immediate licence suspension through the DVLA. Known as Cassie’s Law, the power was introduced in 2013 after 16-year-old Cassie McCord was killed by an 87-year-old driver.
The current law only requires an eye test during the practical drivers’ test, though charities are calling for them to be done when a licence is renewed every ten years. Director of Campaigns for Brake, Joshua Harris, said “it is frankly madness that there is no mandatory requirement on drivers to have an eye test throughout the course of their driving life. Only by introducing rigorous and professional eye tests can we fully tackle the problem of unsafe drivers on our roads.”
The Association of Optometrists released data in 2017, showing 35% of optometrists saw patients that continued to drive despite being told their vision wasn’t up to the legal standard. Jonathan Lawson, Chief Executive of Vision Express, feels more needs to be done. “We believe official Government statistics on the impact of poor sight on road safety are the tip of the iceberg and we know the public feel the same as we do about tackling poor driver vision.”
Director of the RAC Foundation, Steve Gooding gave his opinion. “The human cost of driving with failing eyesight and having an accident can be immeasurable. Drivers mustn’t just keep their eyes on the road, they must ensure they can see what’s ahead.”
What are your thoughts on the police’s crackdown on drivers with poor vision?