OPTICIANS have blasted the UK’s lax rules against driver eye tests – as they reveal thousands with poor vision remain behind the wheel.
Almost half of optometrists treated a patient in the last month who continues to drive, despite being told that their eyesight does not meet legal requirements.
An estimated 2,900 injuries are caused on UK roads every year by a motorists with poor vision.
The current DVLA driving test includes reading a car number plate from 20 metres away, but once passed, Brits only have to complete a self-declaration to renew their licence.
That effectively means a 17-year-old does not need to have their eyes tested for the rest of their lives once they get their licence.
The Association of Optometrists (AOP) is now calling for official eye tests for driving every 10 years – or more frequently after the age of 70 – in its Don’t Swerve a Sight Test campaign.
Nearly half of Brits agree that driver sight checks should be stricter, and a whopping nine out of 10 would have a compulsary eye test every five years or less.
Despite this, one in 20 motorists doubt their vision is good enough and yet continue to drive.
Shockingly, a tenth also said they wouldn’t stop driving if they were told their eyesight could not be corrected to meet the legal standard.
AOP’s study also found a quarter of the public would do nothing to stop a loved one from driving if they knew they had poor vision.
Gillian Jones – whose father Ambrose Skingle was killed by a motorist who lied about their eyesight to renew their driving licence – said: “I have two sons and my father was a big part of their lives.
“Dad taught them how to ride bikes and play golf. We had a family dinner together every Sunday. Life has never been the same. It was as if the centre of our lives had been ripped out.
“I know some people don’t want to have a sight test because they don’t want the bad news that they have to stop driving.
“I’d like them to think of the consequences, both to themselves and to others. I think most people would feel awful knowing they were responsible for taking a life… People have got to look at the bigger picture.”
Henry Leonard, optometrist and AOP spokesperson, added: “It is shocking that so many drivers are overlooking the importance of good vision.
“Sight change can often be gradual, and people may not notice changes that could affect their ability to drive.
“This campaign is about reminding drivers that regular visits to their optometrist are the best way to make sure they meet the legal standard for driving and help make our roads safer.”