GEM calls for overhaul of driver eyesight test

12.00 | 17 February 2015 | | 6 comments

GEM Motoring Assist says better regulation of eyesight tests for drivers would cut collisions and make roads safer.

The road safety charity says a detailed test of a driver’s visual acuity and field of view should be required every 10 years.

GEM points out that 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 years.  

GEM describes the test as “crude and outdated”, and says that “many campaigns” over the years have attempted without success to persuade the Government to introduce measures that would “make drivers take a more responsible view on the subject”.

GEM believes that regular mandatory eyesight tests for drivers would offer a simple and effective way of reducing collisions caused by defective vision.

David Williams MBE, GEM chief executive, 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.

“The time has come to accept that the current driver eyesight test simply isn’t fit for purpose.

“What’s more, many 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.”


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    Dare I ask where GEM have been over the last 5 years when it talks about ‘failing to look properly’?

    Are they not aware that failure to look is a prehistoric disorder that we all suffer from? It appears that we were actually built wrong for the purpose of driving a motor vehicle on a road. First we see, but dont actually see between points that we are scanning (sacaids). Then if we do actually see and recognise, say, a cyclist or motorcycle/scooter we fail to appreciate the oncoming speed as there is little or no visible LOOMING effect. A small creature like a rat stays small no matter how close it gets.

    Then we don’t see others because they are less conspicuous being hidden by the backdrop on their approach.

    It’s a wonder we ever get round as we are all subject to the same disability but some appear to have miraculously overcome these disabilities and actually see other twv vehicles on the road.

    I go for regular eye tests as my father had a problem. I also undergo, but don’t like, the peripheral vision test and so far so good. Eyes are ok.

    I agree with the NHS recommendations. Finding a problem early can save a lot of problems later in life.

    Bob Craven Lancs….Space is Safe Campaigner
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    We run Fitness to Drive assessments for drivers over 70 years of age. These motorists have to provide an opticians report done in the last 6 months on attending the assessment. We have found that 75% of motorists over 70 who attend, have had to either start wearing glasses or had a prescription change. People need to make sure they have regular eyesight tests as changes can occur slowly without us realising. We need to make sure people have good or corrected vision and this is often not done by self declaration

    Rob Heard – Older Drivers Forum
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    Been carrying out eyesight screening with the keystone vision screener recently and found we have recommended to 16% of those tested to have a proper eyesight examination. About half of those who were recommended were aged 19 to 30 and cyclists. Some of the younger cyclists admitted to not having an eyesight check since primary school! Maybe we should have a better ophthalmology department within the NHS and DVSA and all road users having an eyesight examination free at 17 whether pedestrian, cyclist and driver.

    Peter Westminster
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    I think GEM are confusing poor observation skills with poor eyesight – not necessarily the same thing. Driving with one eye is allowed – if I remember correctly 40% vision is the minimum requirement. I’m not aware of any accident data suggesting that poor eyesight is a major or significant contributor to accidents. GEM seem rather ‘Brake-like’ in their never-ending desire for more driver over-regulation.

    Paul Biggs, Staffodshire
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    It’s not just ‘looked, but failed to see’, it’s also ‘failed to even look’ (let alone ‘see’). Applies to all road users obviously, not just drivers.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    There are a great many ‘looked but failed to see’ collisions so I for one would be really interested to find out how many of the drivers and riders involved actually did have defective eyesight.

    Duncan MacKillop. No surprise – No accident
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