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Drivers failing roadside eye test will have licences revoked

Motorists pulled over by the police in several locations during September will have to complete a roadside eye test. Any motorists failing the test will have their driving licences immediately revoked.

Drivers must be able to read a number plate from 20 meters (65 feet) to pass the eye test which has been introduced to address road safety concerns.

Police forces in Thames Valley, Hampshire and West Midlands will run the month-long campaign on driver vision. Data will be collected from each test and will be used to gain an improved understanding of the extent of poor driver eyesight on our roads, which is thought to be underreported in Government statistics.

This activity is part of a wider campaign to encourage the public and the government to take driver vision seriously.

An estimated 1.5m UK licence holders have never had an eye test and crashes involving a driver with defective eyesight are thought to cause 2,900 casualties every year on UK roads.

Road safety charity, Brake, alongside Vision Express, are part of the campaign and are urging the government to tighten up UK driver vision laws and make eyesight testing compulsory before the driving test and each time a driver renews their photocard license.

Joshua Harris, director of campaigns at Brake, said: “It stands to reason that good eyesight is fundamental to safe driving, yet our current licensing system does not do enough to protect us from drivers with poor vision. It is frankly madness that there is no mandatory requirement on drivers to have an eye test throughout the course of their driving life, other than the disproven 20m number plate test when taking the driving test. Only by introducing rigorous and professional eye tests can we fully tackle the problem of unsafe drivers on our roads.”

“Partnering with the police on this campaign will help us understand the extent of poor driver vision in the UK, an issue where good data is lacking. This is the first-step on the road to ensuring that good eyesight is a given on UK roads – the public shouldn’t expect anything less.”

Sergeant Rob Heard, representing the police forces taking part in the campaign, said:“All of us require good vision to drive safely on our roads - not being able to see a hazard or react to a situation quickly enough can have catastrophic consequences. The legal limit is being able to read a number plate at 20m, around 5 car lengths, however this is a minimum requirement and a regular eyesight test with an optician is a must if we are going to be safe on the road.”

“Since 2013, the Police have a new procedure – Cassie’s Law - to fast track notification to the DVLA should they find someone who cannot read a number plate at 20m in daylight conditions. Offending motorists will within an hour have their licence revoked and face prosecution. During September, we will be carrying out 20m number plate checks at every opportunity and those who fail will have their licences revoked. I hope we do not find anyone and everyone makes sure they are safe to read the road ahead.”

Government eyesight rules:

•You must be able to read (with glasses or contact lenses, if necessary) a car number plate made after 1 September 2001 from 20 metres.
•You must also meet the minimum eyesight standard for driving by having a visual acuity of at least decimal 0.5 (6/12) measured on the Snellen scale (with glasses or contact lenses, if necessary) using both eyes together or, if you have sight in one eye only, in that eye.
•You must also have an adequate field of vision - your optician can tell you about this and do a test.

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Posted on 3rd September 2018 at 12:38 PM

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