30.03.2012

The dangers of driving without a valid prescription

The dangers of driving without a valid prescription

By Alexa Kaczka

The dangers of motoring are well-publicised and seemingly every week a road safety organisation or MP is highlighting how vital it is for people to stay within the law at all times behind the wheel.

However, while most people would never dream of speeding through a red light, doing 40 in a school zone or parking on double yellow lines, many motorists may actually be breaking the law every single day without realising it.

A new survey has revealed that, while over a third of drivers think that their fellow road users should have their eyesight tested every year, over one quarter of the UK’s drivers have not had an eye test in the past two years.

According to the Staying Safe and Mobile: Older Drivers report from over 50s motor insurance provider RIAS and the International Longevity Centre, almost a quarter of Brits think that drivers should hang up their keys at the age of 70 or above.

Younger drivers are most supportive of the idea for drivers aged 65 or 60 having to undergo another driving test, with two-thirds of 16 to 24-year-olds agreeing with this, compared with just only one quarter of those aged 65 or over holding this view.

The RIAS study shows that drivers are more likely to have regular eye tests as they get older, which in many ways makes them safer road users.

This is because older drivers are more likely to self-regulate their driving, which assist them in recognising when it is appropriate to acknowledge when they are putting themselves and others at risk.

As a result, the two organisations behind the survey are supporting the new Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) report, which encourages self-assessment for the ageing driving population.

Sarah Howe, marketing director at RIAS, said it is "worrying" that there are so many drivers on the roads who have not had a recent eye test.

"Whilst our Staying Safe and Mobile: Older Drivers report showed that one quarter of Brits see older drivers as a liability on the roads, our latest research reveals that both younger and older drivers could be endangering themselves and others by not ensuring their eyesight is fit to get behind the wheel of a car," she added.

"Millions of drivers are potentially not compliant with DVLA regulations and NHS recommendations, making them a danger to themselves as their motor insurance policies could be redundant if they drive with eyesight below the legal standard."

According to the data, drivers aged between 18 and 30 have their eyesight tested an average of every three and a half years, while motorists aged over 50 are regularly getting their eyes tested within the recommended guidelines of every two years.

The data painted a worrying picture of motoring in London, with a tenth of drivers in the capital having never had their eyes tested, or at the least tested within the last decade.

Less than three quarters of motorists in the capital have had their eyesight tested within the last two years, meeting the NHS recommendation, compared with 83 per cent drivers in the south-west, who have had their sight checked within the same period.

Commenting on the data, Martin Howard, a spokesman for the road safety charity Brake, said good eyesight is one of the most "basic requirements" for safe driving.

"Drivers have a responsibility to ensure that they are fit to drive, and as such Brake is calling on all drivers to have their eyesight tested every two years and report any deterioration in vision to the DVLA without delay," he explained.

Mr Howard added that drivers who fail to take this step are taking "enormous risks" with their own lives, along with the lives of other road users and pedestrians.

by Alexa Kaczka


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