Police trial new roadside eye tests with big consequences for drivers

Three police forces in England are set to trial a new scheme which will see all motorists stopped by police required to take a roadside eye test – those failing the test will have their licences revoked instantly.

Police forces in Hampshire, Thames Valley and the West Midlands will test the eyesight of all drivers they pull over by asking them to read a number plate from a distance of 20 metres.

The new scheme, which will take place throughout the month of September is designed to reduce the number of drivers with poor or defective eyesight on the road.

Currently, drivers themselves must notify the DVLA if they develop problems with their vision.

The trial comes after Surrey Police posted footage of an 87-year-old driver who narrowly avoided a collision with a police car after turning the wrong way onto a main road.

He was given a roadside eye test which he failed after only being able to read a number plate from just 7 metres away.

The roadside eye tests and on the spot licence cancellations are not just an attempt to make roads safer, the police will also use the exercise to collect data on the extent of the poor eyesight problem.

Research by the Association of Optometrists found that over a third of patients who had been seen in the previous month had continued to drive despite being told their vision was below the legal standard.

A representative from the forces involved, Sergeant Rob Heard said:

“Not being able to see a hazard or react to a situation quickly enough can have catastrophic consequences.”

Joshua Harris, the director of campaigns for Brake, a road safety charity supporting the new mandatory eye test scheme added:

“It is frankly madness that there is no mandatory requirement on drivers to have an eye test throughout the course of their driving life.

“Only by introducing rigorous and professional eye tests can we fully tackle the problem of unsafe drivers on our roads.”

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