Brake urging government to make driver eye test compulsory

Friday, August 22, 2014 - 13:14
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eye test

Better safe than sorry

Survey shows overwhelming public support

Almost nine in 10 (87%) are in favour of drivers having to prove they have had a recent sight test every 10 years, when they renew their licence or photo card according to a survey involving Brake, Specsavers and RSA Insurance Group.

The survey, consisting of 1,000 drivers and conducted by Surveygoo, shows why government action is needed, with a quarter (25%) of drivers admitting they have not had their eyes tested in more than two years – despite research showing you can lose up to 40% of your vision before noticing the difference.

Dr Nigel Best, Specsavers’ clinical spokesperson, said: “The stats are quite alarming, it’s important that we all recognise the importance of regular eye examinations and the role that they play in keeping both drivers and pedestrians safe on the roads.”

The only measure currently in place to ensure driver vision satisfies minimum legal standards is the number-plate test carried out from 20 metres away before driving tests, and occasionally at the roadside if police suspect an eyesight problem. This does not test visual field or contrast sensitivity, both of which are important to safe driving, nor is it a totally accurate measure of vision over distance.

In light of these results, Brake have asked the government to introduce a requirement for drivers to prove a recent, professional eye test when applying for a provisional licence, and at least every 10 years thereafter. It’s estimated this would save the public purse at least £6.7 million a year by preventing crashes.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, said: “If you drive, it’s not just your own health you are jeopardising by neglecting your eyesight, but the lives of those around you. That’s why it’s vital for drivers to get their eyes professionally checked at least every two years.”

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