Research shows tougher laws still needed on vision for driving

The call for tougher laws comes in response to the Association of Optometrists (AOP) most recent Voice of Optometry survey findings which reveal an increase in the number of motorists being asked to stop driving because of the risk they pose to themselves and others – up 2% on 2018.

Almost 40% (37%) of optometrists in the UK have seen as many as two patients in the last month who continue to drive despite being told their vision is below the legal standard.

The Don’t swerve a sight test campaign, first launched in 2017, calls for a law change that requires all UK drivers to have a comprehensive vision check to prove they meet the legal standard when they first apply for their licence and then every 10 years thereafter, or more frequently after 70. UK regulation on the issue remains among the most relaxed in Europe.

Optometrist and AOP Head of Clinical and Regulatory, Henry Leonard said: “What many might perceive as a small increase is deeply disappointing and has frightening consequences. We are seeing a rise in the number of people who have a disregard for how important good vision is for driving ability and it’s impacting the safety of the individuals who use our roads.”

An estimated 2900 injuries on our roads each year are caused by drivers with poor vision.

What the public say on driving and vision:
• Around half (47%) of the public agree the laws on vision for driving should be more rigorous
• Of those who want more rigorous laws – half (49%) believed a compulsory sight test should be part of a licence being granted and a quarter (26%) wanted motorists to have a sight test at least every 10 years
• Nearly nine in 10 (86%) regular drivers would be happy to have their vision checked every five years or more frequently
• Nearly a fifth (17%) of regular drivers admitted they have never self-checked their own vision by reading a number plate as suggested by the DVLA’s recommendations[3]
• One in 10 (12%) motorists would continue driving as normal if told their vision could not be corrected to meet the legal standard, while 42% would continue to drive in some capacity, such as cutting back on journeys or only driving locally
• One in 20 UK motorists admit they’ve doubted their own vision yet done nothing about it
• A quarter (27%) of the public would do nothing if they knew a friend or family member who continued to drive with poor eyesight