September 05, 2018

Roadside eye tests for drivers on their way

van drivers eyetest

Drivers who are unable to read a car numberplate 20 metres away will have their driver’s licence suspended, following calls earlier this year from the DVLA for more regular eye tests for drivers.

Roadside eye tests

The UK police are starting to crackdown on drivers without eyesight strong enough to enable them to read a car numberplate 20 metres in the distance. West Midlands, Thames Valley and Hampshire police will conduct regular eye tests on the spot when pulling over drivers and anyone who is unable to read a car numberplate 20 meters away may have their driving licence revoked.

As it stands, the only mandatory test of a driver’s eyesight is conducted before undertaking the practical driving test. From that eye test onwards, the responsibility falls on the driver to ensure that their vision meets the adequate standard before getting behind the wheel of a car or van. If a licence holder experiences any vision problems which may affect their driving, they are required to inform the DVLA.

Cassie’s Law

Police have the jurisdiction to contact the DVLA and request an urgent revocation of a driver’s licence for poor eyesight reasons under a 2013 law named Cassie’s law. This legislation was brought into effect after a 16-year-old girl, Cassie McCord passed away when an 87-year-old driver that had failed a police eye test previously, lost control of his vehicle in Essex.

A clearer picture

The police have stated that data collected under the new eyesight test scheme will help them gain a ’clearer picture’of the extent of the problem of drivers on the road with inadequate vision. Sgt Rob Heard spoke to the BBC on behalf of the three police forces involved in the investigation, commenting:

”Not being able to see a hazard or react to a situation quickly enough can have catastrophic consequences.”

Current eyesight regulations

In 1937 the eyesight test was introduced and has been modified occasionally to reflect changes in number plate sizes. Immediately before taking the practical driving test, the candidate is asked by the examiner to read a new-style car numberplate at 65 feet away (20 metres) or an old-style numberplate at 67 feet away. If the candidate cannot read it, they are asked to read a second one, if that cannot be read then the examiner measures the distance to the third plate and if that cannot be read, the driving test is cancelled, the examiner then informs the DVLA and the licence is revoked.

When drivers first apply for a licence and when they renew their licence at 70, drivers have to declare that they meet the minimum eyesight standard for driving and whether they require corrective lenses to operate a vehicle. They don’t have to confirm whether lenses are worn at each 10-year renewal. The legislation also requires all holders of a driving licence to inform the DVLA about any medical condition which may affect their ability to operate a vehicle, this includes poor eyesight.

The DVLA recently claimed that 50 percent of UK drivers aren’t aware of the required standards and called for compulsory eye tests every 10 years.

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