GEM Motoring Assist is the latest road safety organisation to call on the Government to introduce compulsory eyesight testing for all drivers at regular intervals.
Last month (Dec 2015), Road Safety GB supported a call from a leading ophthalmologist urging drivers to undergo regular eye tests to ensure they have a clear view of the road, especially in the winter months.
David Teenan, UK medical director at Optical Express, stated that longer nights, low sun and treacherous weather can significantly impede the sight of drivers – causing temporary blindness in some cases.
GEM believes that a detailed test of a driver’s visual acuity and field of view should be required every 10 years and says that better regulation of eyesight tests for drivers would cut collisions and make Britain’s roads safer.
David Williams MBE, GEM chief executive, said: “We are worried that a large number of drivers have not had their eyes tested for many years – and some have never had a test.
“Many of us assume our vision is fine and does not require a check-up; however we have no way of knowing this for sure. That’s why it’s so important for road safety that the Government take steps to ensure regular, compulsory testing for all drivers.
“We believe it is unacceptable to operate a system where a driver can read a number plate aged 17 and carry on driving for 50 years or more without any eyesight check whatsoever.
“Along with many road safety organisations, we believe everyone should undergo a compulsory, professional eyesight test when applying for a provisional licence, with a further test every 10 years after that.”
GEM also says that the current ‘number plate’ eyesight test, introduced to the driving test in 1937, is ‘crude and outdated’, as it only measures visual acuity (sharpness).
David Williams MBE added: “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.
“As more and more people are staying behind the wheel into their eighties and beyond, the need for mandatory eyesight testing has never been more pressing.”