3rd January 2013
New figures show that the number of drivers who had their licences taken from them because they failed to pass a standard eye test increased by 10% to nearly 6,000 last year – compared to 2011.
According to rules drawn up by the Department for Transport, everyone who owns a driving licence should be able to read a number plate from a distance of 20 metres away.
Drivers are allowed to use glasses or contact lenses if it is necessary, and they should also demonstrate that they have an adequate field of vision and must pass an eye test with an optician. Those who do not meet the minimum level of eyesight are likely to get into trouble with their car insurance provider and have their licences revoked.
The latest figures show that a total of 5,285 car drivers and motorcyclists had to surrender their licences last year, while 685 lorry and bus drivers’ licences were also stopped – an increase of 39% compared to 2011. Commenting on the figures, transport minister Stephen Hammond told the Mail Online: "Licensing rules have an important part to play in keeping our roads safe. "We must make sure that only those who are safe to drive are allowed on our roads while at the same time avoiding placing unnecessary restrictions on people’s independence. "All drivers must meet certain minimum eyesight standards. There are additional checks for drivers of large goods vehicles and passenger carrying vehicles, which we strictly enforce. "This is to protect the driver and other road users given their size, the number of passengers and the likely additional distance and time spent on the road."
RHA chief executive Geoff Dunning revealed his organisation had "lobbied hard" for the about–turn on the basis that it will help boost economic growth and help for small businesses. "Our position was broadly shared by organisations representing SMEs in the manufacturing and plant sectors, with which we worked," he added.
If drivers notice a deterioration in their eyesight, it is their responsibility to notify the DVLA. There is no obligation to take regular eyesight tests but police officers have the power to stop cars and undertake roadside vision tests. Labour MP Meg Munn said in Parliament: "A recent report showed that in 2010 road accidents caused by poor driver vision resulted in an estimated 2,874 casualties. "These figures provide information on how many drivers who have come forward and reported problems with their vision to the DVLA had their licenses revoked or refused. "I will be continuing to seek further information to ensure that robust measures are in place to check drivers’ vision, so we can continue to improve road safety. For most people it is simply a matter of getting their eyes tested to ensure they have glasses or contact lenses if required."
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