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Drivers with bad eyesight can be pulled off the roads faster thanks to campaign by bereaved mum

More than 600 motorists have have their driving licences revoked after failing roadside eye tests under new police powers brought in after the death of a 16 year old girl.

In 2011 Cassie McCord was hit by 87-year-old Colin Horsfall who he had failed a police eyesight test just a few days earlier.

Under the former law, he was still able to drive due to a loophole that meant it took days for a licence to be revoked by the DVLA.

Cassie’s mother, Jackie Rason, campaigned for a change in the law - now known as Cassie’s Law. Under new powers police can apply to have a licence urgently removed if a driver cannot read a numberplate from a distance of 20m and they fear he will attempt to drive in the meantime.

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

Number of motorists who lose licence due to poor eyesight more than doubles since 2006

 

Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the Guardian show that since the powers were introduced in 2013, police forces across Britain applied 631 times to revoke licences based on failed attempts to read number plates.

In 609 cases the DVLA revoked the drivers’ licences.

Ms Rason said: “I had no idea until now that it was being used so widely, and it is very satisfying to know it is making a difference,” she said.

“That’s more than 600 people who could still be driving, perhaps without even knowing there was a problem with their sight.

“You can’t say that in every case they would have killed somebody, but it is very likely to have prevented fatal accidents and other casualties.”

If a banned driver continues to drive, they commit a criminal offence which may lead to their arrest and their vehicle being seized.

Sue Harrison, Essex police’s assistant chief constable, said: “I very much welcome this new procedure.

“It is a positive step forward and will enable our officers to immediately refer serious cases to the DVLA.

“This new procedure is a great testament to Jackie’s relentless determination and resilience, which I highly commend.”

Last year, Brake, the road safety charity, called on the government to introduce compulsory regular eyesight testing for drivers, as a survey with Specsavers and RSA Insurance Group showed strong public support.

Almost nine in 10 (87%) are in favour of drivers having to prove they have had a recent sight test every 10 years, when they renew their licence or photo card. Research indicates this change in the law would significantly reduce the estimated 2,900 casualties caused by poor driver vision each year.

The survey shows why government action is needed, with a quarter (25%) of drivers admitting they have not had their eyes tested in more than two years – despite research showing you can lose up to 40% of your vision before noticing the difference.

Many drivers are also failing to respond to warning signs in regards to their vision: one in five (19%) have put off visiting the optician when they noticed a problem. In addition, a shocking one in eight drivers (12%) who know they need glasses or lenses to drive have done so without them in the past year.

Brake, Specsavers and RSA's survey of drivers also found:

More than 1.5 million UK drivers (4%) have never had their eyes tested;

One in eight (12%) have not had their eyes tested for more than five years; and

Of the 54% of UK drivers who believe they don't need glasses or lenses to drive, one third (33%) have no way of knowing this for sure, having not had an eyesight test in over two years.

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.