New report says poor vision causes 2,900 annual casualties

12.00 | 5 November 2012 | | 3 comments

A new report has found that road crashes caused by poor driver vision resulted in nearly 2,900 casualties and cost the UK an estimated £33 million each year.

The report was commissioned by the insurer RSA as part of its ‘Fit to Drive’ campaign, to raise awareness of the dangers of driving with poor vision.

RSA is calling for the current number plate test to be scrapped, claiming it does not provide an accurate assessment of a drivers’ vision. Instead, RSA wants all learner drivers to have their vision tested by a qualified professional prior to applying for a provisional driving licence. In addition, it wants eye tests to be mandatory every 10 years, linked to driving licence renewal, with drivers encouraged to voluntarily have their eyes tested every two years (in line with NHS recommendations).

Adrian Brown, RSA UK & Western Europe CEO, said: “The report’s figures speak for themselves. If we  make an eye test mandatory when getting your first driving licence and when renewing every 10 years we will save lives and reduce the strain on public finances.

“Wider understanding among politicians, health professionals, the police and insurers about the serious impact of poor eyesight on road safety is crucial.”

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive at Brake, said: “This report gives an indication of how many violent and devastating casualties on our roads could be prevented through a simple eye examination. Being able to see clearly what’s in front and around you is fundamental to safe, responsible driving.

“That’s why we urge drivers to have an eye test at least every two years, even if you think your sight is fine. We also hope to see common sense winning through and the Government tightening up the rules on driver eyesight. To make our roads safer and ensure everyone is fit to drive we need a scientific eyesight test at the start of your driving career and compulsory re-tests at least every 10 years thereafter.”

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    Duncan is probably right. To the best of my knowledge the association between visual acuity and actual accidents is pretty weak. In fact, it’s fairly obvious that those with best visual acuity are over represented in accidents. The headline is incorrect, of course, but why let a good story get in the way of the (Commercial-in-Confidence) truth?
    The report is worth reading, however, if only for its references.

    Andrew Fraser: Stirling
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    If eyesight made any appreciable difference to the casualty rate then insurance companies would already mandate regular eye tests for their policyholders. The fact that they don’t speaks volumes.

    Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon
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    I’ve been arguing this case for years. Let’s hope someone will finally take action. Not only should there be a certificated optician’s test prior to applying for a provisional licence, but it should include a field test to check peripheral vision. This should, of course, be part of all future tests at licence renewal. As an ADI, I get my eyes tested every six months.

    David Midmer ADI, RoadPeace, Wirral
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

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