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Calls for driver eyesight test to be overhauled

By Kyle Linsay
Thursday, February 12, 2015 - 09:00

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John Cameron

Better or worse? Better or worse?

GEM Motoring Assist says better regulation of eyesight tests for drivers would cut collisions and make Britain’s roads safer.

The road safety organisation says a detailed test of a driver’s visual acuity and field of view should be required every 10 years.

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

GEM chief executive David Williams MBE comments: “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 Yet our current testing regime is crude and outdated.”

According to GEM, the test is crude and outdated, as it only measures visual acuity (sharpness).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 is done in many US states, to check whether motorists can see and react to what’s happening around them.

Many campaigns over the years have attempted to persuade the government to introduce measures that would make drivers take a more responsible view on the subject, but so far governments have declined to change the current regulations despite the belief that regular mandatory eyesight tests for drivers would offer a simple and effective way of reducing collisions caused by defective vision.

David Williams concludes: “The time has come to accept that the current driver eyesight test simply isn’t fit for purpose. What’s more, it is certainly no longer acceptable for drivers to self-certify.”

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