The police will soon have the power to revoke driving licences at the roadside if motorists fail an eye test, under a tough new crackdown to get those with poor eyesight off the road.
The initiative has been formulated by police forces in the Thames Valley, Hampshire and West Midlands alongside road safety charity Brake.
The month-long campaign will see any motorist stopped in the three areas tested for their eyesight before they are allowed to continue with their journey. The data will also be used to help understand the scale of motorists driving with poor sight, as government statistics are thought to be underreported.
Drivers will be tested to see if they can read a number plate from a distance of 20 metres (65 feet), and will have their licence revoked if they are unable to read it. An eyesight check is mandatory as part of the driving test, although there are currently no further compulsory checks which take place for as long as they have a licence.
Joshua Harris, director of campaigns at Brake, said: “Our current licensing system does not do enough to protect us from drivers with poor vision. It is frankly madness that there is no mandatory requirement on drivers to have an eye test throughout the course of their driving life, other than the disproven 20m number plate test when taking the driving test.”
An estimated 1.5m drivers have never taken an eye test, according to Brake, with defective eyesight thought to cause 2,900 casualties each year.
Brake, along with opticians Vision Express, is urging for the laws to be tightened up regarding driver vision, while it also says that eyesight should be checked every time a driver renews their photocard licence.
Sergeant Rob Heard, representing the police forces taking part in the campaign, said: “All of us require good vision to drive safely on our roads – not being able to see a hazard or react to a situation quickly enough can have catastrophic consequences.
“During September, we will be carrying out 20m number plate checks at every opportunity and those who fail will have their licences revoked. I hope we do not find anyone and everyone makes sure they are safe to read the road ahead.”
Under new powers, the police can ask the DVLA for a licence of a driver to be withdrawn. It’s known as Cassie’s Law – named after Cassie McCord, 16, who was tragically killed by an 87-year-old driver who had failed an eyesight a few days earlier, but a legal loophole had allowed him to continue driving.