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Now takes police minutes rather than days to force drivers off the road

Drivers who fail eye tests can have their licences removed within hours under a change in rules that streamlines the process for revoking a licence and allows police to get faster responses from the roadside.

Previously, police had to fax or send by post a request to the DLVA to remove a licence from a driver who failed a roadside eye test - leaving the driver free to drive in the meantime.

But now they will be allowed to email or telephone - which should see the time taken to revoke a licence cut dramatically - according to some estimates it should be possible for a driver to have his or her licence removed by the police at the roadside. It will certainly be accomplished in hours rather than days.

The change was inspired by and campaigned for by Jackie McCord, whose daughter was killed in 2011 by an elderly motorist who police had told not to drive.

Following 16-year-old Cassie McCord's death, 45,000 people signed a petition for the change.

She was hit by driver Colin Horsfall on a pavement as she was on her way to college. But Horsfall shouldn't really have been on the roads at all; three days earlier, he failed a police eye test when he drove into the exit of a petrol station.

He had refused to surrender his licence and police were trying to get it revoked when Cassie was hit.

Road safety minister Stephen Hammond told the BBC: 'We have every sympathy with Mrs McCord and would like to thank her for her valuable work in raising awareness of this issue.

"The DVLA and the police have worked closely to greatly streamline the process for revoking a licence when the police identify that a driver's eyesight is inadequate.

'The decision whether to revoke a driving licence on medical grounds remains with the DVLA, though the process for informing drivers that their licence has been revoked has now been accelerated."

Alan Jones, the Police Federation's roads policing lead for England and Wales, said: "It seems absolute nonsense a police officer who knows someone has defective eyesight has not been able to do anything.

"We believe what the Department for Transport has suggested is something which would work.

"I know Cassie's Law asked for the police officer to have the authority to suspend a licence. In this suggestion, the officer acts as a conduit and we are happy with that."

As we reported last year, 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.

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.