posted 11 months ago

Drivers Banned In Error Due To Faulty Sight Test Equipment

Hundreds of drivers wrongly banned due to faulty sight test equipment.

80% Wrongly Banned

The DVLA forced hundreds of motorists off the road citing poor eyesight despite their vision being tested by substandard equipment, The Guardian confirmed. Those with certain eye complaints and conditions have to renew their licence frequently. The process can involve a sight test at an approved optometrist.

One element requires the participant to focus on a target ahead – which is shown via a field vision analyser – then track various flashing lights. Between 2010 and 2015, a fault made some of the lights to dim which invalidated results.

The DVLA contacted 604 drivers, and 80% of those that sat a retest, passed.

The DVLA explained: “There may be some individuals who would have been able to detect the lights at the higher brightness standard that should have been used, but were unable to detect the lights at this lower brightness. As soon as we became aware of the fault, we asked opticians to immediately stop using the equipment and contacted everyone who had undergone the test on that equipment.”

Driver, 78, Wrongly Loses Licence Due To Faulty Eye Test Machine

Derek Harlow, 78, was among the motorists wrongly banned. After losing his licence in April 2013 – and selling his Vauxhall Corsa for £1,800 – he and his disabled wife lost much of their freedom.

He told the Guardian: “My wife struggles to use public transport and has become progressively housebound” (since the licence was revoked). The solution was to use expensive taxis and trains. “We’ve lost a lot of money through no fault of our own”, he argued. 

In 2015, Mr Harlow received a letter explaining that his sight might meet the required standard, after all. He is now back on the road in a £5,200 Toyota Yaris.

He said: “When the initial elation subsided, I felt aggrieved that my life has been disrupted so needlessly. I have complained to the DVLA but have received a not-our-fault letter obviously encouraging me to take no further action.

Surely the DVLA cannot absolve itself of the responsibility having contracted specific opticians to carry out the eye tests on its behalf? 

The DVLA said that it is not responsible, however. A spokesperson told The Guardian: “As this software issue originated at the point of manufacture - and not as a result of any action or inaction by the DVLA - we are not responsible for any losses that might have resulted from the defect. The fault with this particular piece of equipment seems to have originated from an inherent software defect.”