Almost half of optometrists claim to have seen a driver with bad eyesight during the last month
Experts are urging for a change in the law after it’s reported that almost half of optometrists in the UK claim to have seen a driver with bad eyesight during the past month.
Following a number of high profile road accidents in which poor vision played a key part, experts are now asking for a mandatory eye test to be introduced that drivers must have to take every 10 years.
According to DfT figures, “uncorrected, defective eyesight” was a contributory factor in 193 accidents in 2016 which resulted in 7 fatalities and 245 injuries.
The Association of Optometrists (AOP) would like to see drivers having to take a comprehensive eyesight check when they first apply for a driving licence to make sure their vision meets the legal standard required to drive on UK roads. They would also like introduced a mandatory retest every decade thereafter, with more frequent checks for drivers once they reach 70 years of age.
Currently, a driver taking their UK driving test has to be able to read a number plate from a distance of 20 metres and after that, no other checks are required for a lifetime of driving.
The only requirement thereafter is for motorists to acknowledge that their eyesight is good enough every decade when their licence is up for renewal.
However, a survey of 1,246 AOP members found that 44% of optometrists in the UK have been with a patient over the last month whose eyesight has been declared below the legal standard, yet they continue to drive on our roads.
Also, the AOP talked to 2,000 members of the public, of which 1,300 drove regularly. Almost half (47%) believed that laws surrounding vision should be made tougher, whilst 49% thought that a mandatory eye test should be part of a driving licence being granted and 26% sided with the AOP as regards to introducing a law that means all drivers should be made to have their eyesight retested every decade.
Additionally, 86% of regular drivers said they’d be happy to have their eyesight retested every five years or even more frequently.
Moreover, 27% of all those taking part in the survey admitted that they wouldn’t do anything if they knew one of their friends of family members were still driving despite having poor eyesight, whilst 12% of motorists confessed that if they were told that their eyesight did not meet the legal standard, they would continue to drive anyway.
The figures have been described as “shocking” by AOP professional advisor Henry Leonard, who warned that sight loss can happen gradually, adding that “people may not notice changes that could affect their ability to drive”.
The “Don’t Swerve A Sight Test” campaign conducted by the AOP recommends that drivers have their eyes tested every two years to ensure continued road safety.
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