GEM Motoring Assist has called for better regulation of driver eyesight testing, saying a more robust system would cut collisions.
The eyesight test was introduced as part of the driving test in 1937 and has only been amended in minor ways since then, to reflect changing number plate sizes. It is the only eyesight test drivers are required to undertake until they reach the age of 70 years.
According to GEM, the test is ‘crude and outdated’, as it only measures visual acuity, or ‘sharpness’. GEM says the test should also examine a driver’s field of view, to check whether motorists can see and react to what’s happening around them.
GEM believes that regular mandatory eyesight tests for drivers would offer a simple and effective way of reducing collisions caused by defective vision.
Neil Worth, GEM road safety officer, said: “Speeding, drink or drug driving, driving unlicensed… these are responsible for a fraction of the crashes on our roads compared with failing to look properly, according to all the official data.
“Yet our current testing regime is crude and outdated.
“We believe that all drivers should ensure they have an eye test every two years, just to ensure there are no safety concerns about their vision and to deal with any issues at an early stage.
“We would also like to see every new driver producing evidence of a recent eye test when first applying for a licence, with a mandatory test every 10 years in line with licence renewal.
“The current driver eyesight test has not been fit for purpose for a long time, and we believe it is simply no longer acceptable for drivers to self-certify.”