Drivers will have licence revoked if they fail road side eye testWed, 12/09/2018
A new police initiative to take away licences from drivers who fail impromptu roadside eye tests will be piloted in three areas in the UK.
Martin Evans, The Telegraph, reports:
Motorists who are stopped by police will have their licences immediately revoked if they fail a simple roadside eye test.
The tough new crackdown aims to catch some of the thousands of drivers who get behind the wheel each day despite having defective eyesight.
Every motorist who is stopped by officers in three pilot areas will have to pass a basic vision test before being allowed to continue driving.
If they are unable to read a number plate clearly from a distance of 20 metres they will have their licence revoked on the spot and will not be allowed to continue on their journey.
As well as removing dangerous drivers from the roads, the scheme will allow the police to collect data on the extent of the problem nationwide.
The initiative is being rolled out across Thames Valley, Hampshire and the West Midlands, and is being supported by road safety charity Brake.
Sergeant Rob Heard, representing the police forces taking part in the campaign, said: "Not being able to see a hazard or react to a situation quickly enough can have catastrophic consequences."
He warned that officers will be carrying out eyesight checks "at every opportunity" and under new powers can request the immediate withdrawal of a person's licence from the DVLA.
The power was introduced in 2013 under Cassie's Law, named after 16-year-old Cassie McCord, who died when an 87-year-old man lost control of his vehicle in Colchester, Essex.
It later emerged he had failed a police eyesight test day earlier, but a legal loophole meant he was allowed to continue driving.
Last year a pensioner was jailed for four years after killing a three-year-old girl on a pelican crossing, weeks after being told his eyesight was too poor for him to get behind the wheel.
John Place, 72, who was not even wearing his glasses, only stopped when he was flagged down by another driver.
Just three weeks earlier he had been told by two opticians that his eyesight had dropped below the minimum driving standard even when he was wearing his glasses.
Under current rules, a learner driver must be able to read a number plate from 20 metres when they are taking the practical part of their driving test.
But once someone has obtained their licence, it is up to them to assess their own vision and inform the DVLA if they have a problem with their eyesight.
It is thought at least half of all drivers on British roads are unaware of the minimum eyesight standard required to be on the roads.
Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake, said: "It is frankly madness that there is no mandatory requirement on drivers to have an eye test throughout the course of their driving life.
"Only by introducing rigorous and professional eye tests can we fully tackle the problem of unsafe drivers on our roads."
Research by the Association of Optometrists published in November last year found that more than a third of patients who had been seen in the previous month had continued to drive despite being told their vision was below the legal standard.
A 2012 study by insurance firm RSA also estimated that poor vision caused 2,874 casualties in a year.
Jonathan Lawson, chief executive of Vision Express, which is also supporting the initiative said: "We believe official Government statistics on the impact of poor sight on road safety are the tip of the iceberg and we know the public feel the same as we do about tackling poor driver vision."
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: "The human cost of driving with failing eyesight and having an accident can be immeasurable.
"Drivers mustn't just keep their eyes on the road, they must ensure they can see what's ahead."
Despite what may seem to be a harsh consequence of having your licence revoked, the introduction of these new powers provides the police with the ability to make our roads even safer.