A new police initiative aims to tackle the problem of drivers with poor visibility causing road accidents. Three police forces in the Thames Valley, the West Midlands and Hampshire will all be undertaking a series of eye tests for drivers pulled over at random. If the driver cannot read a licence plate of new and used cars at a distance of 20 metres, the police will have the power to suspend their licence.
A check of a driver’s eyesight is usually undertaken as part of their driving test before they hit the road. All motorists must be able to read a number plate at no more than 20 metres to pass, a test first put in place back in 1937 and has changed several times as licence plate sizes altered. However, once the test has been taken and a motorist has his or her licence, there are no further regular checks on the driver’s eye sight. It is entirely up to individuals to have their eyesight tested and ensure they are safe to drive from that point onwards. Drivers must inform the DVLA should they have an eye problem which inhibits or impairs their ability to drive.
In 2013 Cassie’s Law was introduced following the tragic death of a 16-year-old named Cassie McCord in Colchester who was killed when an aging driver lost control of his vehicle and hit her. The motorist had previously failed a police eye check but at that point law enforcement officials could not revoke his licence – Cassie’s Law now gives them the power to request a licence suspension in the event of a spot check eye test failure.
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In addition to removing unsafe drivers from the roads and thereby hopefully reducing the source of potential accidents, it will also allow officials to build up a better understanding of the scale of the issue. Current testing regulations give a candidate three chances to read a number plate before they are allowed to take their driving test – should they fail, then their licence is instantly suspended, and they are not permitted to take the road test.
Drivers must also renew their licence when they reach 70 and confirm at that point if they require corrective glasses or lenses to drive, there is however no requirement to do this at the usual ten-year renewal intervals. When purchasing a new car there’s no requirement for motorists to inform motor trade professionals about any issue with their eyesight.
A reduction of drivers with poor vision would theoretically reduce the number of accidents and may even lead to a reduction in insurance policy premiums because of fewer claims.