GEM Motoring Assist is calling for an overhaul of driver eyesight regulations, suggesting a more detailed test would ‘cut collisions and make Britain’s roads safer’.
In a press release issued last week, GEM says a detailed test of a driver’s visual acuity and field of view should be required every 10 years – stating that regular mandatory eyesight tests for drivers would offer a simple and effective way of reducing collisions caused by defective vision.
GEM made the call following the publication a survey of more than 1,000 of its members, in which an ‘overwhelming’ 87% responded saying ‘compulsory eye testing would lead to safer roads’.
GEM’s road safety officer, Neil Worth, says the time has come to accept that the current driver eyesight test ‘simply isn’t fit for purpose’, adding that it is ‘certainly no longer acceptable for drivers to self-certify’.
He points to DVLA guidelines for medical professionals which state that eyesight can decline gradually and unnoticed, with people losing up to 40% of their visual acuity without being aware of any deterioration.
The eyesight test was introduced to the driving test in 1937 and has only been amended in minor ways over the years, reflecting changes in number plate sizes. It is the only eyesight test drivers are required to undertake until they reach the age of 70 years.
GEM says that field of view testing is a requirement in many US states – to check whether motorists can see and react to what’s happening around them.
Neil Worth said: “If you can’t see effectively, you shouldn’t be driving, but the truth is that there are many drivers whose eyesight has deteriorated to very dangerous levels.
“In an ideal world, we would want compulsory eyesight tests every two years, particularly for drivers 40 and above. But the most practical measure would be a test of visual acuity and field of view every 10 years, which would fit in with licence renewal, making it practical and enforceable.
“Compulsory eyesight tests would not only make our roads safer, saving lives, disability and many millions of pounds through the reduction in the number of crashes, but they are also a valuable tool for the early diagnosis of many other costly medical conditions, irrespective of driving.”