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Seeing clearly? How 7,000 motorists a year have their driving licence revoked because of poor eyesight

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 13/01/2020 Rob Hull For Thisismoney.co.uk

An average of 134 motorists each week have their driving licences revoked by authorities because they can't see well enough to be behind the wheel.

There were 19,644 drivers who had their licence taken away from them because of inadequate eyesight between January 2017 and September 2019, new figures from the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency show.

Insurer Direct Line, which requested the stats from the DLVA, has suggested which locations might have the most drivers with inadequate vision by listing which major towns and cities have the highest percentage of motorists that haven't had their eyes tested in the last two years.

a car driving on a road: Seeing clearly? Some 7,000 motorists a year are having their licences rescinded by the DVLA because their vision doesn't meet the required standard to drive © Provided by This Is Money Seeing clearly? Some 7,000 motorists a year are having their licences rescinded by the DVLA because their vision doesn't meet the required standard to drive

The insurance provider warned it wasn't just older drivers who were having licences revoked due to poor vision. 

It said an average of 12 people a week fail their driving test before it even starts because they can't read a clean number plate from a distance of 20 metres. 

Drivers pulled over by police who suspect the motorist might have poor vision can conduct a roadside eye tests, which can ultimately result in a motorist losing their licence if they fail.

A study last year found that a total of 42,467 licences had been medically rescinded in the first seven months of 2019. 

Of the most common conditions leading to motorists being removed from the road, poor eyesight was third behind alcohol addiction and seizures.  

A survey of 2,000 drivers by the insurer found that 21 per cent of drivers haven't had their eyes tested in the last two years - which works out at an estimated 8.9million UK licence holders.

a man driving a car: Drivers can be fined up to £1,000 if they don't inform the DVLA that they have a medical condition that might impact their ability behind the wheel, including deteriorating vision © Provided by This Is Money Drivers can be fined up to £1,000 if they don't inform the DVLA that they have a medical condition that might impact their ability behind the wheel, including deteriorating vision

Incredibly, three per cent of motorists polled said they have never had an eye examination.

Drivers can be fined up to £1,000 if they don't inform the DVLA about a medical condition that affects their driving and could be prosecuted if involved in a collision as a result. 

Cities with highest percentage of drivers that haven't had an eye test for over 2 years 

1. Brighton: 33%

=2. Glasgow: 30%

=2. Leeds: 30%

=4. Birmingham: 29%

=4. Bristol: 29%

6. Newcastle: 28%

7. Plymouth: 27%

=8. Edinburgh: 26%

=8. Liverpool: 26%

10. Southampton: 25%

11. Norwich: 23%

=12. Manchester: 21%

=12. London: 21%

=12. Sheffield: 21%

15. Belfast: 18%

16. Nottingham: 15%

17. Cardiff: 13%

Source: Direct Line survey of 2,000 drivers 

Eye care professionals believe there should be stricter rules regarding eye check-ups, with 81 per cent of optometrists supporting a change in law so annual eye tests are made mandatory for drivers. 

Steve Barrett, head of motor insurance at Direct Line, said: 'If people do not have regular eye tests, they may not even realise their vision is impaired when they get behind the wheel, which leaves them a danger to themselves and other road users.

'A simple eye test, that takes a moment in time, can ensure drivers have the appropriate corrective glasses or contact lenses so that their vision is adequate to drive.'

Dr Nigel Best, clinical spokesperson for Specsavers added: 'Our vision can deteriorate slowly, meaning it is sometimes difficult to detect a change ourselves but subtle variations can increasingly affect both perception and reaction time when driving. 

'We welcome this research and hope it will make more road users aware of the risks they run by not having regular eye tests, whether it is potentially losing your driving license or worse, causing a collision on the road.' 

Direct Line's poll of motorists found that drivers in Brighton are the least likely across the UK to regularly visit the optician, with a third of people failing to have an eye test in the last two years. 

Residents of Birmingham, Glasgow and Leeds are also risking driving without the right corrective lenses because they have failed to have their eyes tested in the last two years, the figures claim. 

Ian McIntosh, chief executive at RED Driving School, said it is 'vital' that police forces tackle the issue of poor eyesight on the road.  

He told This is Money: 'Having a reduced ability to react to hazards and assess surroundings on the road is dangerous for all road users, and it’s important that there is a focus on this across all ages and experiences of driver – not just newly qualified ones.

'Regular eye tests can not only safeguard your sight, but your driving licence too.'

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