‘Sorry, I didn’t see you’ is a frequent excuse for poor driving. Although this is often due to loss of concentration, is enough being done to ensure our roads are used by those who pass the legal standard for eyesight?
Under DVLA rules, a driver must be able to read a car’s number plate 20.5 metres away from them. And this is something 5,285 motorists failed to do in 2011 on request from the police.
More concerning is the number of them who were behind the wheel of large vehicles – of those who had their licenses revoked, 685 were lorry or bus drivers.
According to the most recent Reported Road Casualties in Great Britain report, there were 250 accidents in 2011 caused by uncorrected or defective eyesight, including nine casualties.
Previously drivers who failed the roadside eye test could return to their vehicles and continue driving until they received a licence revocation document through the post. However, online systems now allow for a licence removal notice to be issued almost instantly, stopping drivers from getting back behind the wheel.
Of course, there are questions around how this will be governed. What are the chances of these individuals being subject to on-the-spot tests? How many will slip through the net and continue to put themselves and other road users in danger?
If you retook your driving test, would you pass?
And eyesight is not the only problem. According to a poll of 1,000 motorists by car insurance firm Esure, nearly one in five drivers said they’d fail the driving test if they had to re-take it again, and a quarter thought they’d fail the theory test.
Over half who answered the questionnaire said they’d picked up bad habits while driving, and one in five said they’d had a near miss or an accident in the last year. Driving over the speed limit was the most common bad habit (86%), followed by driving with one hand on the steering wheel (84%) and forgetting to check mirrors before changing speed (82%).
Do you think on-the-spot eye tests would be a good idea? How would you feel about having your eyesight scrutinised by police at the side of the road?