By Alexa Kaczka
A road safety charity and breakdown cover company is urging the government to reassess existing vision tests for driving, to ensure road safety is not compromised.
With countries across the globe marking World Glaucoma Week this week, GEM Motoring Assist is calling for support to encourage stricter rules for driving vision tests and more regular compulsory eye tests for licence holders.
As part of the UK's driving test, motorists are required to read a licence plate from 20 metres away, but the coalition government is looking to relax this law to just 17.5 metres – something that will do more harm than good, the road safety organisation claims.
With already an estimated four million UK motorists failing to meet minimum eyesight requirements for driving, it is important that the wellbeing of other drivers and pedestrians is not compromised, explained David Williams, chief executive of GEM Motoring Assist.
He said that poor vision is a "significant factor" when it comes to road safety in the UK and the rest of the world.
"It is very worrying that the government is even contemplating relaxing the vision test during driving tests. In fact, we believe the test should be much more stringent and there should be rules in place to ensure motorists have their eyes tested professionally, on a more frequent basis," he added.
This will result in people who require glasses and contact lenses to drive being made to do so, rather than having the rules relaxed so that those with poor vision are allowed on the road, Mr Williams noted.
With more frequent, obligatory eye tests for motorists there is a higher chance of catching problems, such as glaucoma, at a much earlier stage, the expert explained.
"Not only that, but we know that taking these steps would help reduce the number of accidents caused by poor vision," Mr Williams added.
by Emily Tait