Brake call for mandatory eyesight testing

Road-safety charity Brake make controversial call for compulsory eyesight testing in the wake of new accident statistics

BRAKE and insurer RSA are calling for the government to tighten up rules on driver eyesight and are demanding the traditional numberplate test to be replaced with a compulsory full vision test.

The test would be undertaken with a qualified professional at the start of a person's driving career, with subsequent mandatory re-testing every 10 years linked to driving licence photocard renewal.

As a result of a report commissioned by RSA, which concluded that crashes caused by poor driver vision account for an estimated 2,900 casualties and cost £33 million per year, Brake hope that 'common sense' will 'win through' and that as a consequence of the new measures, crashes caused by poor vision will be significantly reduced.

According to Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of Brake, 'this report gives an indication of how many violent and devastating casualties on our roads could be prevented through a simple eye examination.'

However, according to statistics from a report released last year entitled 'Licensed to skill: Contributory factors in accidents' which analysed five years worth of accident data recorded by police between 2005 and 2009, in just 0.4% of cases was 'defective eyesight' found to be a major factor. On the other hand, of the 65 percent of crashes attributed to 'driver error or reaction', a significant 20.5 percent were attributed to 'failing to look properly'.

When the RSA report use the ambiguous phrase 'poor driver vision' then, is it really talking about our old friend 'SMIDSY'?

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