Motorists’ eyesight ‘should be retested’ every 10 years

How is your eyesight?
How is your eyesight?

Motorists should face compulsory sight tests every 10 years to stay on the road, leading eye experts have said.

More than a third (35 per cent) of optometrists have seen patients in the last month who continue to drive despite being told their vision is below the legal standard, according to the Association of Optometrists (AOP).

Britain has some of the most relaxed vision requirements for drivers in Europe.

There is no mandatory eye exam apart from having to read a number plate on a parked vehicle at the start of the practical driving test.

This means a 17-year-old may continue to drive for the rest of their life with no further checks.

Seven people were killed and 63 were seriously injured in accidents on Britain’s roads last year when “uncorrected, defective eyesight” was a contributory factor, Department for Transport data shows.

Motorists must tell the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency if they have problems with their eyesight, but their licence will continue to be renewed if they do not admit to having difficulties. Nine out of 10 optometrists believe the current rules are insufficient.

The AOP has launched a Don’t Swerve A Sight Test campaign urging people to get tested every two years.

Optometrist and AOP board member Dr Julie Anne-Little claimed Britain “falls behind many other countries” due to its reliance on self-reporting and the initial number plate test.

Steve Gooding, director of motoring research charity the RAC Foundation, said: “Just as motorists should be routinely monitoring the road worthiness of their vehicles, so they should also be regularly checking their own fitness to drive.”