GEM calls for overhaul of driver eyesight regulations
Road safety organisation GEM
Motoring Assist says better regulation of eyesight tests for drivers would cut
collisions and make Britain’s roads safer.
The only eyesight test at present is when people take
their driving test and have to read a number plate at 20 metres.
GEM says a detailed test of a driver’s visual acuity and
field of view should be required every 10 years.
The call follows a survey of more than 1,000 GEM members
of which an overwhelming 87% said compulsory eye testing would lead to safer
GEM road safety officer Neil Worth said: “If you can’t
see effectively, you shouldn’t be driving, but the truth is that there are many
drivers whose eyesight has deteriorated to very dangerous levels.
“In an ideal world, we would want compulsory eyesight
tests every two years, particularly for drivers 40 and above. But the most
practical measure would be a test of visual acuity and field of view every 10
years, which would fit in with licence renewal, making it practical and
“Even Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency guidelines to
medical professionals state that eyesight can decline gradually and unnoticed,
with people losing up to 40% of their visual acuity without being aware of
GEM believes that regular mandatory eyesight tests for
drivers would offer more than just a simple and effective way of reducing
collisions caused by defective vision.
Mr Worth said: “Compulsory eyesight tests would not only
make our roads safer, saving lives, disability and many millions of pounds
through the reduction in the number of crashes, but they are also a valuable
tool for the early diagnosis of many other costly medical conditions,
irrespective of driving.
“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.
“Many more people are staying behind the wheel into their
eighties 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.”
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.