GEM calls for overhaul of driver eyesight test

Posted on January 4th, 2016 by GEM Motoring Assist

Professor Steve Taylor

ROAD SAFETY organisation GEM Motoring Assist is calling on the Government to introduce compulsory eyesight testing for all drivers at regular intervals. GEM says better regulation of eyesight tests for drivers would cut collisions and make Britain’s roads safer.

A detailed test of a driver’s visual acuity and field of view should be required every 10 years, according to GEM.

GEM chief executive David Williams MBE comments: “We are worried that a large number of drivers have not had their eyes tested for many years – and some have never had a test.

“Many of us assume our vision is fine and does not require a check-up; however we have no way of knowing this for sure. That’s why it’s so important for road safety that the Government take steps to ensure regular, compulsory testing for all drivers.

“We believe it is unacceptable to operate a system where a driver can read a number plate aged 17 and carry on driving for 50 years or more without any eyesight check whatsoever.

“Along with many road safety organisations, we believe everyone should undergo a compulsory, professional eyesight test when applying for a provisional licence, with a further test every 10 years after that.

The current ‘number plate’ eyesight test was introduced to the driving test in 1937 and has only been amended in minor ways over the years to reflect changing number plate sizes. It is the only eyesight test drivers are required to undertake until they reach the age of 70.

According to GEM, the test is crude and outdated, as it only measures visual acuity (sharpness). It could also quite easily examine a driver’s field of view, as is done in many US states, to check whether motorists can see and react to what’s happening around them.

David Williams concludes: “The time has come to accept that the current driver eyesight test simply isn’t fit for purpose. What’s more, it is certainly no longer acceptable for drivers to self-certify.

“As more and more people are staying behind the wheel into their eighties and beyond, the need for mandatory eyesight testing has never been more pressing.”

The Still Safe to Drive (www.stillsafetodriver.org.uk) website, funded by the GEM Motoring Assist Road Safety Charity, maintains an excellent video library, which includes an interview with optometrist Professor Steve Taylor on how our eyesight alters with age.

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