Association of Optometrists response to Government Road Safety Statement 2019

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22 July 2019
Source: Association of Optometrists

The Association of Optometrists (AOP) welcomes the Government’s commitment to consider mandatory eyesight tests for older drivers, set out in The Road Safety Statement 2019 published today.

The report and action plan, released by the Department for Transport, addresses a host of road safety issues including medical fitness to drive. It rightly highlights the importance of good eyesight for road safety. It pledges a research programme and literature review, in partnership with the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency, to assess poor vision as a UK safety problem. And crucially, it says the Government will consider the case for a new vision test for drivers over the age of 70, and then at three-year intervals when they renew their licence.

The AOP is a strong advocate for change to the current eyesight requirements for motorists, which are some of the weakest in Europe and put all road users at risk. The AOP’s Don’t swerve a sight test campaign calls for a change to the law, to require drivers to have a comprehensive vision check to prove their vision meets the legal standard when they first apply for the licence, and whenever they renew their licence.

Commenting on the statement, Deputy Chair of the AOP, Dr Julie-Anne Little said: “It’s reassuring to see the Government taking practical steps through a committed road safety action plan. We’re pleased it takes a full view – looking at all th2e key issues that can impact road safety, including the importance of good vision for driving.

Dr Little added; “It’s particularly welcome that the Government is now committed to consider making sight testing part of the licence renewal process. That is a significant shift, and one that we have long called for. Changing the rules so that drivers have to get their vision checked regularly will save lives on the road.”

Under existing UK law, drivers must undergo an initial number plate test when taking a driving test, then complete a self-declaration for renewing their licence. This means a 17-year-old who can read a number plate from 20 metres away when they take their test, may continue to drive with no further checks for the rest of their life.

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