New research suggests that roughly ⅔ of all drivers in the UK are avoiding updating their prescription for glasses, and this has led to an increase in the number of accidents on the roads. In response, police have begun conducting eye tests on drivers - with those who fail or have poor vision as a factor in their accidents facing a £1000 fine and three points on their driving licence.
Delayed eye tests are an increasing issue in the UK. Research suggests that 20% of all drivers who need glasses haven’t had an eye test in three years.
The tests are a core part of maintaining a perfect vision for driving, and in the worst cases, drivers who fail to keep up with tests and have poor vision could be disqualified from driving. Police have the authority to conduct eye tests for drivers who are pulled over - they’re expected to read a number plate up to 20m away.
As a result of the increased number of accidents, those who are visually impaired or elderly are encouraged to get their eyesight checked as soon as they can. Furthermore, the AOP has issued a warning that avoiding eye treatments constitutes a threat to road safety.
The data collected for the report showed that roughly 1/10 people said that even if their vision was deemed to be unsafe for driving, they would continue to do so. Understandably, this is not encouraging news for anyone.
Further compounding the issue is that nearly half of all optometrists in the UK reported that they had patients who have been driving despite their vision being too poor, suggesting most simply don’t care for the consequences.
Roughly 3000 people have been either injured or killed in accidents every year where bad eyesight has been a serious contributing factor. Furthermore, research conducted by the Department for Transport shows us that roughly 42% of all incidents that involve drivers over 70 are because their eyesight isn’t good enough. It’s safe to say that this is something of an urgent issue, and the government has faced criticism for not being more proactive about dealing with it.
Adam Sampson is the chief executive of the AOP and had this to say:
“It's deeply concerning that a 17-year-old who can read a number plate from 20 metres away when they take their driving test may continue to drive with no further checks for the rest of their life. We have to ask ourselves why the UK system, which relies on self-reporting and a number plate test, continues to operate under a law first introduced in 1937 to the detriment of an individual's safety.
Sight loss can often be gradual, and people may not notice changes that could affect their ability to drive, so it's important to remember that regular vision checks are an essential part of helping to stay safe as a driver”.