Police in three pilot areas trialled a new roadside vision test throughout September that could lead to tradespeople losing their licence if they fail.
It’s part of a crackdown on the thousands of UK drivers on the road with bad eyesight. Police want to understand the extent of the problem across the UK – and to make sure everyone on the road is safe and legal.
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What are the current vision requirements for drivers?
Learner drivers have to pass a mandatory sight exam when they take the practical part of their driving test. This is where the instructor asks the learner driver to read a number plate from 20 metres – the minimum vision requirement for driving in the UK.
After that, though, drivers are under no obligation to get regular eye checks. It’s their own responsibility to make sure their vision’s up to scratch and to tell the DVLA if there are any problems.
What’s the new roadside test?
2013’s Cassie’s Law already gives police the power to fast track information on drivers with bad eyesight to the DVLA. The law is named after teenager Cassie McCord, who died after an 87-year-old man drove onto the pavement. He’d failed an eyesight test just days earlier.
The Telegraph reports that under the trial, police across Thames Valley, Hampshire and the West Midlands could give motorists a basic vision test if they stopped them. If they couldn’t pass, their licence was revoked on the spot and they weren’t able to carry on their journey.
Sergeant Rob Heard, speaking on behalf of the forces taking part, said they’ll be testing drivers “at every opportunity.”
The initiative is supported by road safety charity Brake. Brake’s director of campaigns, Joshua Harris, 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.”
Brake and Vision Express are calling for drivers renewing their licence every 10 years to be required to have a recent vision test.
How to make sure your vision is up to standard
It’s estimated that half of the UK’s drivers aren’t aware of the minimum vision requirement, and a 2012 study found that poor vision could cause around 2,874 casualties a year.
With the police trialling a new test, they look ready to tackle the problem head-on. So what can you do to make sure you stay on the right side of the law?
First, ensure you can read a number plate from 20m away. You can wear glasses or contact lenses for this, if necessary
If you have an eye condition, you must tell the DVLA about it. Check the list of medical conditions you need to tell DVLA about
Specsavers advise that most people have an eye test every two years. Regular eye tests are essential, because many eye conditions are symptomless early on
Do you think on-the-spot roadside tests are a good idea? Let us know in the comments below.