AN OPTICIAN in Ipswich is using Road Safety Week to remind drivers and pedestrians to take care on the roads, following new research showing that drivers with poor eyesight are 62 percent more likely to stray out of their lane when driving.
To help local residents prepare for winter road conditions, staff at Specsavers in Ipswich will be offering free in-store number plate vision checks on 21 November. This quick check is the same as the one that forms part of the driving test and will let them know whether their vision is still fit for the road.
The new research, commissioned earlier this year by Brunel University and insurance provider Royal Sun Alliance (RSA), also reveals that the quality of a driver’s vision has a fundamental impact on their driving performance2. The study also indicates that drivers who meet the minimum legal eyesight requirement for driving only recognise three-quarters of the road signs they encounter, compared to drivers with good vision.
Mark Taggart, director of Specsavers in Ipswich, says: ‘These new results are proof that many people are taking unnecessary risks on our roads. Being perceptive and alert as a driver – especially on congested roads – is essential, so it’s particularly important to follow the advice of the College of Optometrists, which recommends an eye check every two years. Patients with certain conditions may need more frequent examinations. Drivers that choose to ignore that advice are putting themselves and others in danger.’
The results of the study come at a time when the UK government is considering plans to relax vision standards for motorcyclists and car drivers. This comes despite calls from leading optical bodies and road safety groups for more stringent testing, as well as a new report from the European Parliament calling for 10-yearly tests for all motorcyclists and car drivers, with testing for over-65s every five years.
Brunel University polled over 2,000 people, with results revealing that 92 percent of drivers believe that people with poor eyesight are a danger to themselves and other road users.
In addition, 75 percent of those polled agreed that eye tests should be mandatory when renewing a driving licence, while almost 77 percent would support legislation to increase provisions for eyesight testing when people take a driving test4.
Katie Shephard, director of fundraising at national road safety charity Brake, says: ‘As a charity that supports families devastated by road deaths and injuries, we recognise how vital it is to ensure that all drivers have good eyesight.
‘Being able to see what’s in front and around you clearly is fundamental to safe, responsible driving. To make our roads safer, we believe there is a need for a scientific eye examination, carried out when you qualify as a driver and regularly thereafter.’
Specsavers has campaigned throughout the last decade for legislation to be introduced to make sight tests compulsory as part of the driving test. Working with Brake and police constabularies across the UK, Specsavers has toured motor shows and county shows nationwide with its Drive Safe trailer, screening drivers’ vision.
Research conducted at these roadshows has concluded that two in every five drivers would fail an eye examination and should be wearing prescription glasses when driving. Additionally, over 85 percent of people believe that eye examinations should be compulsory when renewing a driver’s licence.
To book an appointment for an eye examination, please contact Specsavers Ipswich on 01473 210 333 or log onto www.specsavers.co.uk/ipswich