Road Safety News
 

Meg Munn named Parliamentarian of the Month

Monday 9th January 2012

Meg Munn, MP for Sheffield Heeley, has been named Brake’s Road Safety Parliamentarian of the Month for her campaign to introduce regular eye tests for drivers.

Mrs Munn started the campaign after being contacted by a constituent whose niece was killed by a driver with defective eyesight.

Her campaign calls for driver eye tests to be carried out by qualified practitioners using a scientifically recognised method, instead of the current limited number plate test, and for drivers to be re-tested at least every 10 years, at the same time as applying for a new licence photocard.

Meg Munn MP said: “I’m delighted to have been awarded Road Safety Parliamentarian of the month. Having your eyes tested is such a simple thing, and we know it saves lives. I’d encourage all drivers to have their eyes tested regularly.”

Julie Townsend, Brake campaigns director, said: “Being able to see clearly is fundamental to safe, responsible driving.

“We hope to see common sense winning through: to make our roads safer we need a scientific eyesight test carried out at the start of your driving career and regularly throughout it. We would like to thank Meg for her continued hard work pushing this vital issue.”

For more information contact Brake on 01484 559909.

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This research could be achieved by other means - using simulators and in car observation equipment that would check these fields and whether or not they were a factor in a driver scanning and seeing a potential hazard or another road user e.g. cyclist/motorcyclist. There would be no necessity to carry our post crash eye assessments although this could be used as confirmatory evidence. The technology and expertise to do this research already exists.
Honor Byford, North Yorkshire

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I have no confidence in the contributory factors in STATS19 for these type of issues. I stand to be corrected, but I think it would be unusual for post crash eye assessments to take place. In particular would a coroner's report include such details for fatal accidents (e.g was the eyesight of the deceased an assessed issue?).

And as for costs I think these would be close to NIL - the opticians would do it for free if they increased patronage.
Pete, Liverpool

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There are two issues in this debate:
1. The simple vision test - as measured on the number plate or the letter chart at the opticians
2. The peripheral and fields of vision - which is not currently measured at all.

One of the most frequent contributory causes of collisions is "Looked but failed to see" and limited or degraded peripheral vision may well be a factor in this. But we don't know for sure so a piece of research to identify whether this is a factor and, if so, to what extent and at what ages, would be timely.
Honor Byford, North Yorkshire

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As we have to renew our photocard licence every 10 years, that would be a good time to be required to test our eyes?
Pete, Liverpool

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It might be useful if these campaigns included the available evidence. Every year on average 49 KSI collisions occur where "Uncorrected, defective eyesight" is a contibutory factor. That's 0.2% of the total. See:

http://speedcamerareport.co.uk/contributoryfactors.xls

So a national law requiring millions of people to take eyesight tests might prevent up to 49 FSCs but, of course, there may be other factors involved in those collisions (eg a drunk with poor eyesight) and the journeys not undertaken by people who fail the test may be undertaken by others not without risk. So any saving would likely be far lower than 49.

And then there's the costs of millions of eyetests in a recession and the loss of quality of life, primarily for old folk unable to go to see their families or possibly even to live unaided (and the cost of that).

I'm not convinced the cost (in cash and freedom) of such a law could justify any possible benefit.
Dave Finney - Slough

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I've been saying for years that the eye test for drivers should be carried out by a qualified optician - preferably every five years. This should include a field test to check peripheral vision. I get mine checked every six months - in fact my next test is at 11 this morning. As a driving instructor I have to read a number plate further away than the general public do - shouldn't they be at least as good as me? In other parts of the world you need documentary evidence of good eyesight before obtaining a licence. Unfortunately, of course, we are looking at a possible reduction in the distance required for a number plate test. Well done and good luck to Meg Munn.
David Midmer Grade 6 ADI and Fleet trainer, Wirral

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