6000 lose driving licence for poor eyesight in 2011 - and that's a 39% rise in the number of bus and lorry drivers

The responsibilty is on drivers to state when their eyesight is too bad to drive

by Sarah Barth   December 30, 2012  

Cyclists at traffic lights (©Toby Jacobs)

Nearly 6000 drivers had their licences revoked in 2011 because their eyesight was so poor, a 10 per cent rise on the previous year - and among bus and lorry drivers a 39 per cent rise.

5,285 licences for cars and motorbikes and 685 lorry and bus drivers's licences were stopped last year because holders could not pass a standard eye test.

Transport minister Stephen Hammond told the Mail Online: "Licensing rules have an important part to play in keeping our roads safe. 

"We must make sure that only those who are safe to drive are allowed on our roads while at the same time avoiding placing unnecessary restrictions on people’s independence. 

"All drivers must meet certain minimum eyesight standards.  There are additional checks for drivers of large goods vehicles and passenger carrying vehicles, which we strictly enforce. 

"This is to protect the driver and other road users given their size, the number of passengers and the likely additional distance and time spent on the road."

Labour MP Meg Munn said in Parliament: "A recent report showed that in 2010 road accidents caused by poor driver vision resulted in an estimated 2,874 casualties.

"These figures provide information on how many drivers who have come forward and reported problems with their vision to the DVLA had their licenses revoked or refused.

"I will be continuing to seek further information to ensure that robust measures are in place to check drivers’ vision, so we can continue to improve road safety. For most people it is simply a matter of getting their eyes tested to ensure they have glasses or contact lenses if required."

The responsibilty is on drivers to state when their eyesight is too bad to drive, but police can undertake roadside vision tests.

Under Department for Transport rules, all drivers should be able to read a number plate from 20 metres away, with glasses or contact lenses if necessary. They should also be able to pass an eye test with an optician and have an adequate field of vision.

 

15 user comments

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Put the onus on employers to ensure that any drivers they employ have adequate eyesight - the threat of corporate manslaughter should get their attention.

Make mine an Italian with Campagnolo on the side

posted by monty dog [387 posts]
31st December 2012 - 11:20

7 Likes

I've always thought it was a good idea for a mandatory eye test for driving as and when you went to the opticians. The optometrist could then forward the pass / fail information onto the DVLA.

I suppose it would be too much like joined up thinking though.

Velotastic !

Too many hills, but too little time.

badback's picture

posted by badback [277 posts]
31st December 2012 - 12:16

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A regular mandatory eye sight check for holding your driving licence would be good. Relying on self checking doesn't seem to work.
The chance of ever being checked by the police is low (unless you are in an accident).

posted by thereverent [322 posts]
31st December 2012 - 13:14

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How about having a "check box" on the licence stating wether the holder requires corrective lenses to drive. Then if the person does get pulled the officer can see (no pun intended) at a glance wether the driver is legal or not.

FATBEGGARONABIKE's picture

posted by FATBEGGARONABIKE [605 posts]
31st December 2012 - 13:44

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Wow, isn't it required by the UK law that employees undergo a general medical checkup every once in a time, like once a year or two years? It's obvious to me that people doing such dangerous jobs should be tested regularly - aren't they?

blog rowerowy - my blog about bicycles (written in Polish, but feel free to visit me! Smile )

mikroos's picture

posted by mikroos [197 posts]
31st December 2012 - 14:48

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FATBEGGARONABIKE wrote:
How about having a "check box" on the licence stating wether the holder requires corrective lenses to drive. Then if the person does get pulled the officer can see (no pun intended) at a glance wether the driver is legal or not.

The standard EU driving licence lasts for 10 years. A lot can happen in that time. My eyesight was fine for years and I only needed glasses for working at the computer. And then my eyesight declined and I needed glasses all the time. That's why having a checkbox saying vision aids required on the driving licence wouldn't work. The problem is, that many people suffer a decline in their eyesight and pretend it hasn't happened.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2308 posts]
31st December 2012 - 15:38

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True. And what is more, it might be impossible for the police officers to determine whether the driver is wearing his contact lenses or not (and what optical power - is that the proper English name of this parameter? Smile - they are).

A simple and cheap workaround would work like this. Each police car is equipped with a unique "license plate dummy". In case of doubt during regular control, the officer would simply walk away 20 metres from the driver and present them the "plate". Should the driver fail the test, they would be required to undergo professional medical tests to determine their actual sight quality.

Simple, effective, extremely cheap.

blog rowerowy - my blog about bicycles (written in Polish, but feel free to visit me! Smile )

mikroos's picture

posted by mikroos [197 posts]
31st December 2012 - 15:47

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My wife is a Dispensing Optician, and they are not allowed to report people with bad eyesight who should not be driving to the DVLC believe it or not. She often mentions an 80 year old with tunnel vision who has is a a complete liability. They can write to the patients GP and recommend advice to give up driving, but it appears some GPs are reluctant to restrict old peoples "self mobility".
Totally Stupid to me.

posted by Gary613 [32 posts]
31st December 2012 - 23:20

9 Likes

Thanks Oldridgeback and Mikroos I didn't think that bit through D Oh

FATBEGGARONABIKE's picture

posted by FATBEGGARONABIKE [605 posts]
1st January 2013 - 8:56

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FATBEGGARONABIKE wrote:
Thanks Oldridgeback and Mikroos I didn't think that bit through D Oh

No problem - the idea Mikroos put out isn't a bad one at all and I wonder what Stumpy would say in terms of how easily it could be implemented.

What Gary says is worrying. Surely people's mobility shouldn't put others at risk? My father's getting old and his driving isn't what it was. It's still ok and he's not a danger but there will come a point in the next few years when he'll have to stop. My brother, my sister in law, my wife and I have all discussed this already and we're all monitoring his ability. It'll be a difficult subject to have to broach but we're in agreement on it.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2308 posts]
1st January 2013 - 14:34

5 Likes

Mikroos' idea wouldn't work unfortunately, as well meaning as it is. The rules are actually to be able to read a number plate 20.5 metres away in bright daylight. I forget the specific wording but the ambient light has to be more than adequate and that affects how well one sees quite drastically. It also takes no account of peripheral vision and depth perception defects and the test cannot be done in poor light or at night-time.

The law does need tightening up though and there is no reason why a bi-yearly opticians check linked to DVLA cannot be done. That will test for adequate driving eyesight 9with correction if needed) and go a decent way to ensuring better safety on our roads. If you buy a new TV they check to see you have a licence at the buyers address which is done almost behind your back. The law is sooo daft and outdated a lot of the time.

I forgot to add that my wife is still recovering 3 years after being shunted from behind as she waited at a red light after being hit by an elderly gent at over 30mph. He said he did not see the queue of traffic stopped or the red light. He wasn't prosecuted after he volunteered to surrender his licence.... He could of killed people crossing the road. He knew his eyesight was bad and probably knew for a long time yet continued to drive. We most certainly do need stricter controls.

posted by Critchio [117 posts]
2nd January 2013 - 9:59

6 Likes

@Critchio - a roadside test conducted by a police officer is more than enough as a preliminary test. It's just like a roadside sobriety test conducted in the US - it's not perfect but is effective enough to be used and catch many people who should not drive in their condition.

I am fully aware the method is far from perfect but if it was backed up by a test conducted by a professional, it would be much better than nothing and would cost close to zero.

Like I said before, however, I just can't understand how British drivers can work with no obligation to undergo a regular medical checkup. That would eliminate even more problems.

Cheers!

blog rowerowy - my blog about bicycles (written in Polish, but feel free to visit me! Smile )

mikroos's picture

posted by mikroos [197 posts]
2nd January 2013 - 10:43

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Critchio wrote:
Mikroos' idea wouldn't work unfortunately, as well meaning as it is. The rules are actually to be able to read a number plate 20.5 metres away in bright daylight.

If the wording was changed to be "in bright daylight or with headlamps on" then it would become straightforward in any weather conditions: put the suspect in the passenger seat of the police car, turn the lights on, walk 20.5m.

Bez's picture

posted by Bez [433 posts]
2nd January 2013 - 12:52

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Critchio wrote:
Mikroos' idea wouldn't work unfortunately, as well meaning as it is. The rules are actually to be able to read a number plate 20.5 metres away in bright daylight. I forget the specific wording but the ambient light has to be more than adequate and that affects how well one sees quite drastically. It also takes no account of peripheral vision and depth perception defects and the test cannot be done in poor light or at night-time.

The law does need tightening up though and there is no reason why a bi-yearly opticians check linked to DVLA cannot be done. That will test for adequate driving eyesight 9with correction if needed) and go a decent way to ensuring better safety on our roads. If you buy a new TV they check to see you have a licence at the buyers address which is done almost behind your back. The law is sooo daft and outdated a lot of the time.

I forgot to add that my wife is still recovering 3 years after being shunted from behind as she waited at a red light after being hit by an elderly gent at over 30mph. He said he did not see the queue of traffic stopped or the red light. He wasn't prosecuted after he volunteered to surrender his licence.... He could of killed people crossing the road. He knew his eyesight was bad and probably knew for a long time yet continued to drive. We most certainly do need stricter controls.

Interesting points you make - hope your wife does recover

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2308 posts]
2nd January 2013 - 17:29

7 Likes

Eyesight is only one factor. To a greater or lesser extent, hearing, heart condition, proneness to fainting, or fits etc, all need to be taken into account.

To maintain a pilot's licence, even a Private Pilot's Licence (PPL) which does not permit you to fly for "hire and reward" you have to undergo full medical checks with a qulified and accedited doctor at regular intervals, initially every five years reducing to 2 years, then 1, then 6 months as you grow older. You can pass if you can meet the eye test with corrected vision, but I don't think you can pass with colour blindness.

And this is for a pursuit which is extremely unlikely to cause damage or harm to anyone besides yourself and perhaps the occasional passenger. How much more appropriate then where your incompetence or negligence can wipe out entire families?

posted by Paul M [325 posts]
3rd January 2013 - 14:57

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