Risk of road traffic accidents reduced as thousands of drivers are banned for poor eyesight

Published: 17/01/2013

UK roads have been made significantly safer after over 5,000 drivers have had their licences revoked or blocked due to poor eyesight.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has retracted 5285 driving licences after motorists failed a standard eye test, an annual increase of 8 per cent. Lorry and bus drivers were culpable of the largest increase, with numbers rising significantly from 493 to 685.

In 2011 there were 250 road traffic accidents as a result of uncorrected, defective eyesight, 9 of which ended in a fatality.

The main problem arises from the fact that once a driver passes their test, which requires them to demonstrate they are able to read a licence plate from 20 metres, they are never obliged to undergo any further compulsory eyesight test. Instead it is down to the drivers own assessment as to whether they meet the criteria.

This may explain the reason for the dramatic increase particularly involving the number of lorry and bus drivers who have recently had their licences revoked; in such economically tough times, where driving fuels their income, this self assessment is, understandably, highly biased.

With our lifestyles now jam packed with a multitude of screens – computers, tablets, TV and mobile phones – our eyesight may deteriorate much more quickly.

While driving with defective eyesight is an offence, how many drivers would readily admit such a flaw and lose their right to drive, even in light of risking a road traffic accident? The likely answer to this question poses another: should a driver be required to sit an eye test when renewing their driving licence?

Content correct at time of publication

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