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Driving Vision

08 Oct 2018 << back to list

Driving around the UK this weekend I was reminded of an article that appeared on the BBC website recently:

“Drivers who fail to read a number plate from 20m (65ft) away when stopped by police will have their licences re-voked immediately in a new crackdown.

Three forces in England are planning to test every motorist they stop in a bid to clamp down on drivers with defective eyesight. Police say data from the tests will be used to im-prove understanding of the extent of poor driver vision.

The forces taking part are Thames Valley, Hampshire and West Midlands. Officers can request an urgent revocation of a licence through the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) if they believe the safety of other road users will be put at risk if a driver remains on the road.

Under current rules, the only mandatory examination of a driver's vision takes place during the practical test, when learners must read a number plate from 20 metres.

After a person has obtained a licence, it is up to them to inform the DVLA if they have vision problems.

Sgt 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 eye- sight checks "at every opportunity".

The power to revoke licences 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 days earlier, but a legal loophole meant he was allowed to continue driving.”

Unfortunately there is no direct equivalent to the number plate test available in consulting rooms, so I would urge all drivers to check their vision is safe for driving by attempting to read a number plate at 20metres, in a good light. If you need to wear distance vision glasses to see the plate, make sure you also wear them when you are driving, even for short journeys, and if you cannot see the number plate with or without your glasses on, stop driving and get an early appointment with us for further advice. In a rural area such as ours, not having access to a car can have a devastating on quality of life, but the potential conse-quences of persisting can be much worse.

As an example, many years ago one of my patients travelling from Frome to Shepton hit a car that pulled out in front of him in Doulting. My patient was an extremely experienced driver in his seventies, the lad that pulled out in front of him had just passed his test.

The police checked my client’s eyesight, who was not wearing his driving glasses at the time. He failed the number plate test and it was him that was prosecuted for dangerous driving, not the young driver. And because he was not driving legally he was therefore uninsured. Luckily nobody was seriously injured, but it had a marked effect on an otherwise upright and law-abiding man.

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