Roadside Police Eyesight Tests Being Trialled
When driving, it’s important it is to be able to see clearly in order to assess your surroundings, to observe potential hazards and to react in time should the need arise. Surprisingly, figures suggest that around half of the drivers on the road don’t know the minimum standards when it comes to their vision and research published last year showed that 35% of drivers who were told by optometrists that they couldn’t see well enough to drive, continued to do so.
At the very least, all drivers must be able to read a numberplate clearly at a distance of 20 metres (65 feet). Vision is checked at the point a learner driver takes the practical part of their driving test, but after, there’s no mandatory eyesight testing – it’s up to drivers themselves to assess whether they’re able to see well enough to drive and to make the DVLA aware if this is not the case.
Revoking a Driving License Due To Poor Eyesight
The Police have always had the power to request that the DVLA revoke the driving license of a driver found to be unable to see sufficiently well, but until a few years ago, the process took some time and until the point the DVLA acted to comply with this request, the driver could continue to drive with impunity. This loophole was closed in tragic circumstances when, in 2011, 16 year old Cassie McCord was killed by an 87 year old driver, whose eyesight had been tested by the Police days earlier, had been found to be defective, but whose license had not yet been revoked. “Cassie’s Law” was introduced in 2013 and introduced new procedures whereby the DVLA can revoke a driving license within minutes of an urgent request being made by the police. In practice, this means that if a driver is stopped and found to be unable to see well enough, they can lose their license on the spot and as such won’t be allowed to get back in the driver’s seat.
Where Are Police Eyesight Tests Being Stepped Up?
Currently, the Police covering the West Midlands, Hampshire and Thames Valley, during the Month of September, will be conducting vision tests on every motorist they stop during their normal operations. The information gathered from these trials will be used to analyse how many drivers are taking to the road with subpar vision. Depending on the results of the trials, we may well see other forces the following suit, with Police Eyesight Tests potentially becoming part of day to day road policing.
When did you last check your own vision? Have you been to the opticians in the last year? If not, maybe now’s a good time to make sure you too can see well enough to drive.