Drivers’ eyesight – a growing issue

10.31 | 27 October 2011 | | 3 comments

The number of drivers who have lost their licence due to failing eyesight has more than doubled in the last four years (MSN News).

Licenses revoked for failing eyesight totalled 1,597 in 2006 but this figure increased to 4,009 in 2010, according to figures obtained by the Co-operative Motor Group following a freedom of information request.

Tony Guest, Co-operative Motor Group managing director, said: “Good eyesight is essential to safe motoring, and we would urge anybody who has concerns over their vision to contact a specialist. There is no room for complacency when it comes to road safety."

The Co-operative Motor Group points out that the law demands that any driver with concerns over their eyesight should see a doctor or eye specialist and – if advised to do so – must contact the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency if they have a condition that makes it dangerous to drive.

Failure to do so is punishable by a fine of up to £1,000, and will also invalidate the driver’s insurance.

Click here to read the full MSN News report.


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    Reading a numberplate across the road is hardly a good eyesight check and I’m surprised it’s still so basic in the first place.

    Most VDU users get free eye tests every couple of years surely this could be used as the basis for regular eye tests for all road users? Perhaps it could be tied into regular driving assessments every five years or so too.

    Dave, Leeds
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    90% of the information that a driver/rider receives is visual. Opticians recommend to have an eye test every 2 years but it is up to the driver to ensure his/her health is good enough to be safe to drive.

    I personally consider that any driver failing to ensure his/her health is up to standard, shows a great level of negligence and lack of responsibility to other road users. In the case of causing a fatality the punishment should be much harder than the current and even manslaughter should be considered.

    I find the current eye-sight check to take somebody on L-test by reading a reg plate 20.5m away is not suitable. What about peripherical vision, night vision, etc?

    Health conditions should be signed up by doctors as professional drivers (LGV and PCV) have to and as it is the case on the majority of countries in the continent

    Marti, West Midlands
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    Fact – people that cannot see well are more likely to crash.
    Fact – this is not just an ‘elderly’ problem, people of all ages may have eye sight conditions.

    My wife (an optician) is frequently amazed how some patients have driven to an appointment without mishap.

    As the recession bites people will be less inclined to visit opticians.

    If we were designing a safe system in a proper manner (like we would in a workplace) we would put modest measures in place to ensure the users of the system are suitable. In this case of drivers eye sight, it need not be a full eye sight test that is required, but could be simply a two minute screening test of basic visual ability (wearing any current glasses), say every 2 years or so. The provider of these services could then inform DVLA of the small number of failures. This would need a cost benefit analysis which would also include benefits of also preventing some non-road accidents (slips and trips particularly). Assuming a unit cost of a basic eye sight screening test is say £1 and for a two yearly interval this would involve a cost of around £12m a year, compared to an annual road accident cost (all causes) of around £15 billion (RRCGB 2010). Using my rough figures, my initial thought is that the £12m would be a good investment – it does not take many accidents saved to recoup the outlay.

    Peter, Manchester
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