Drivers in the West Midlands could lose their licence if they fail police’s roadside eye tests

Written by on September 3, 2018

A TOUGH new month-long crackdown being rolled out across the West Midlands Police area will see drivers given roadside eye tests with those failing having their licences revoked.

Motorists who are stopped will be asked to read a registration plate 20m (65ft) away.

If the test is failed and the officers believe other road users are being put at risk, they can then contact the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) requesting an urgent revocation of the driver’s licence.

Road safety charity Brake is teaming up with police forces in Thames Valley, Hampshire and West Midlands for the drive which will take place throughout September.

Data will be collected from each test and will be used to gain an improved understanding of the extent of poor driver eyesight on our roads, which is thought to be vastly under-reported in government statistics.
It will also be part of a wider campaign to encourage the public and the Government to take driver vision seriously.

Shocking statistics show an estimated 1.5million UK licence holders have never had an eye test and crashes involving a driver with defective eyesight are thought to cause 2,900 casualties every year on the UK’s roads.

The UK’s driver vision test – requiring only a 20m number plate check when taking a driving test and nothing else for the rest of your driving life – makes the country one of only five in the EU to have such low standards.

Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake, said: “It stands to reason that good eyesight is fundamental to safe driving, yet our current licensing system does not do enough to protect us from drivers with poor vision.

“It is frankly madness that there is no mandatory requirement on drivers to have an eye test throughout the course of their driving life, other than the disproven 20m number plate test when taking the driving test.

“Only by introducing rigorous and professional eye tests can we fully tackle the problem of unsafe drivers on our roads.

“Partnering with the police on this campaign will help us understand the extent of poor driver vision in the UK, an issue where good data is lacking. This is the first-step on the road to ensuring that good eyesight is a given on UK roads – the public shouldn’t expect anything less.”

Sgt Rob Heard, representing the police forces taking part in the campaign, added: “All of us require good vision to drive safely on our roads – not being able to see a hazard or react to a situation quickly enough can have catastrophic consequences.

“The legal limit is being able to read a number plate at 20m, around 5 car lengths, however this is a minimum requirement and a regular eyesight test with an optician is a must if we are going to be safe on the road.”

 Brake, alongside Vision Express, is urging the Government to tighten up UK driver vision laws and make eyesight testing compulsory before the driving test and each time a driver renews their photocard licence.

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