Charity calls for compulsory driver sight tests to save lives
Survey shows motorists ignore poor vision
The road safety charity Brake today launched a campaign calling for the government to make regular eyesight tests compulsory for motorists.
A new survey reveals widespread public support for the move, which would help to combat the estimated 2,900 road casualties a year in the UK in which poor vision is a factor.
Almost nine in ten (87%) people support drivers having to prove they have had a recent sight test every 10 years – replacing the current system of only testing vision at the driving test.
The survey, conducted with Specsavers and RSA Insurance Group, reveals the extent of the problem. A shocking one in eight drivers (12%) who know they need glasses or contact lenses to drive have done so without them in the past year .
And one in five (19%) have put off visiting the optician when they noticed a problem.
Other findings include:
· a quarter of drivers admit they have not had their eyes tested in more than two years - despite research showing you can lose up to 40% of your vision before noticing the difference
· More than 1.5 million UK drivers (4%) have never had their eyes tested;
· One in eight (12%) have not had their eyes tested for more than five years; and
· Of the 54% of UK drivers who believe they don't need glasses or lenses to drive, one third (33%) have no way of knowing this for sure, having not had an eyesight test in over two years.
The tragic story of a bride-to-be who was mown down by a partially-sighted driver on a zebra crossing highlights the dangers of the current system.
Natalie Wade, 28, was knocked down in 2006, while shopping for her wedding dress. She suffered severe brain damage from which she died in intensive care on Valentine's Day.
The 78-year-old driver who hit her was blind in one eye and has 40 defects in the other, but had not declared his eyesight problems to the DVLA.
Since she was killed, Natalie’s family have been campaigning for changes in the law to prevent similar, avoidable tragedies. Her aunt, Reverend Brenda Gutberlet, said: “To get behind the wheel of a vehicle unable to see shows a disregard for the lives of others and it can’t be right that we still allow drivers to do so.”
Common sense will save lives
Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, said: "Compulsory regular eyesight testing for drivers is a common sense, lifesaving move. Making sure your vision is up to scratch is crucial to safe driving, and though it may seem there are plenty of excuses to put off going to the opticians, none is good enough when it comes to putting people's lives at risk.”
Terry Hogan, co-founder of Motoring.co.uk, said: “We support and promote responsible driving and will be actively supporting this important campaign from Brake.”