HEALTHCARE professionals have called for tougher eyesight legislation for motorists, claiming the UK’s current laws are some of “the laxest in Europe”.
The Association of Optometrists (AOP) found that 90% of its members felt the current sight requirements for a driving licence are insufficient.
It added that 44% of those surveyed said they had cared for a patient in the previous month who continues to drive, despite having eyesight that doesn’t meet the legal requirement.
Although the Highway Code says drivers must have a visual acuity of at least 0.5 and be able to read a car number plate from a distance of 20 metres (with glasses or contact lenses, if necessary), the only time eyesight is checked by a driving assessor is during a practical driving test.
Motorists are expected to notify the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA) if they have any problem with their eyesight that could affect their driving, but the AOP says this means British motorists may end up driving for their entire lives having had just one official assessment to check they comply with the law.
By comparison, Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Spain and Turkey all demand motorists pass a practical eyesight test every 10 years. Dutch drivers aged 75 or above must have their eyesight tested every five years, and Slovakian motorists aged 70 or above need to pass an annual test before they’re legally allowed to drive.
To improve eyesight standards in the UK, the AOP is suggesting the UK should also implement a mandatory “comprehensive vision check” that British drivers are required to take every 10 years. The AOP also recommends these assessments occur “more frequently” for those aged 70 or above.
The AOP’s calls for tougher driver eyesight laws comes after the DVLA launched its ‘EYE 7357’ awareness campaign in July this year, which urged drivers to regularly self-check their vision by taking the 20m number plate test themselves.
Police forces in Hampshire, the West Midlands and the Thames Valley have also begun pulling over motorists they suspect of having poor vision, and automatically banning them from driving if they fail or decline to take an on-the-spot eyesight test