Eyesight testing call for motorists

Eyesight Testing Call for Motorists

GEM Motoring Assist is calling on the Government to introduce mandatory eyesight testing for all drivers at regular intervals.

Regular tests

A detailed test of a driver’s visual acuity and field of view should be required every 10 years, according to the road safety organisation. GEM chief executive David Williams MBE said: “We are anxious that a large number of drivers have not had their eyes tested for many years – and some have never had a test.

“GEM believes it is unacceptable to operate a system where a driver can read a number plate aged 17 and carry on driving for 50 years, or more, without any eyesight check whatsoever."

Williams added: “Along with many road safety organisations, we believe everyone should undergo a compulsory, professional eyesight test when applying for a provisional licence, with a further test every 10 years after that."

Number plate test

The present ‘number plate’ eyesight test was introduced in 1937 and has only been changed in minor ways over the years to reflect changing number plate sizes. It is the only eyesight test drivers are required to take until they reach 70 years old.

According to GEM, the test is basic and outdated, as it only measures visual acuity - or sharpness. It could also quite easily examine a driver’s field of view to check whether motorists can see and react to what’s happening around them.

The GEM chief concluded: “As more people are staying behind the wheel into their eighties and beyond, the need for mandatory eyesight testing has never been more pressing.”

Still safe to drive

The Still Safe to Drive (www.stillsafetodrive.org.uk) website, funded by the GEM Motoring Assist Road Safety Charity, maintains an excellent video library, which includes a chat with optometrist Professor Steve Taylor on how our eyesight alters with age.