14th November 2017
Optometrists Propose Compulsory Eye Tests For Motorists
The Association of Optometrists have stated that drivers should have mandatory eye tests every 10 years.
This comes after 1 in 3 optometrists have seen patients within the last month who have continued to drive despite having vision below the legal standard.
As part of the practical driving tests, motorists must be able to read a number plate from 20m (65ft) away however once passed and on the road, there is no follow up check to make sure this continues to be the case.
The Department for Transport have stated that “all drivers are required by law to make sure their eyesight is good enough to drive” and that any changes to eyesight should be reported to the DVLA.
Last year’s data collected from the Department of Transport highlights that “uncorrected, defective eyesight” has been a contributory factor to many accidents on Britain’s roads impacting 63 people with serious injuries and causing seven fatalities.
Nine out of Ten optometrists believe that it is insufficient to rely on motorists to self-report changes in eyesight to the DVLA.
In the UK, it is only drivers aged 70 and over who are required to confirm they meet the minimum eyesight requirement. This is then reassessed every three years to determine whether they are still fit to drive.
Optometrist, Dr Julie Anne Little highlights that often people do not realise their vision has deteriorated over time because eye sight changes can be gradual. She believes that Britain is behind many other countries in their approach to self-reporting eyesight issues to the DVLA and in the use of the initial number plate test.
“The Association is correct that at the moment the law requires self-disclosure. All applicants for a new licence are required to certify that their eyesight meets the legal requirement, as are drivers renewing when 70 years old. The Police can require an eyesight test where they think there may be a problem, as can the DVLA, and it is an offence to refuse such tests. The association’s proposal would be difficult to administer and expensive, nevertheless it might be thought that mandatory testing of eyesight every 10 years could only improve road safety.
We can help in many cases where the DVLA suspend or revoke licences for medical reasons which often relate to vision problems.”
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