Safety campaigners have renewed their call for regular mandatory eye tests for motorists, claiming such a move would cut collisions and reduce casualties.
GEM Motoring Assist argues that poor vision is a greater risk on the roads than a variety of illegal bahaviour and drivers should be made to have their vision checked every 10 years to cut the number of collisions.
Currently the only check on a driver’s vision until the age of 70 is when they take the practical driving test. GEM argues that the numberplate reading check, introduced in the 1930s, is “crude and outdated” and no longer fit for purpose.
‘Not fit for purpose’
GEM road safety officer Neil Worth said: “Speeding, drink or drug driving, driving unlicensed – these are responsible for a fraction of the crashes on our roads compared with failing to look properly, according to all the official data. Yet our current testing regime is crude and outdated.
“We believe that all drivers should ensure they have an eye test every two years, just to ensure there are no safety concerns about their vision and to deal with any issues at an early stage.
“We would also like to see every new driver producing evidence of a recent eye test when first applying for a licence, with a mandatory test every 10 years in line with licence renewal.
“The current driver eyesight test has not been fit for purpose for a long time, and we believe it is simply no longer acceptable for drivers to self-certify.”
According to GEM, the current eyesight is ineffective as it only measures visual acuity (sharpness). The safety body insists the assessment could also easily examine a driver’s field of view, as is done in many US states, to check whether motorists can see and react to what’s happening around them.
Neil Worth added: “Many people are staying behind the wheel into their 80s and beyond. This, coupled with the greater volume of traffic and an increase in distractions, both inside and outside the vehicle, points to the clear need for more regular and detailed eyesight testing.”