Road Safety Week: Don’t Swerve a Sight Test

Nov 20, 2017
The Optical Consumer Complaints Service (OCCS) is supporting the campaign for regular compulsory vision checks for drivers, as Road Safety Week 2017 (20-16 November) gets underway.

The OCCS welcomes the call by the Association of Optometrists (AOP) for a change in the law that would see drivers required to prove their vision meets the legal standard every ten years. 

Don’t swerve a sight test: the campaign 

Under the current law, after taking the number plate test during their driving test, drivers are not required to take any further sight tests for the rest of their life. Instead, the DVLA only asks people to declare eyesight problems under a self-reporting system.

As sight often deteriorates slowly, and eye tests are not mandatory, we have no way of knowing how many people may be driving at this very moment without realising the dangers of their eyesight problems.  

The Don’t swerve a sight test campaign, launched to coincide with Brake’s annual Road Safety Week, aims to address this, and help make our roads safer. 

Worrying statistics 

In the past month, the AOP says that more than one in three optometrists have seen a patient with vision below the legal standard, who continued to drive against advice. 

Many more drivers with poor vision are overdue for eye tests. 

In a poll, 30% of current road users admitted doubting whether their vision was adequate, while continuing to drive. 

A further 26% delayed getting their eyes checked by an optometrist despite suspecting their vision was deteriorating – with 6% admitting to stalling a sight test for more than a year.

When was your last eye test? 

Alongside calling for eye tests to be compulsory every ten years, the OCCS and the AOP are recommending all drivers take a sight test at least every two years.

Drivers who haven’t undergone an eye test in the past two years – or who suspect their vision has deteriorated – are being asked to make an appointment as soon as possible. 
Nine in 10 optometrists agree that all qualified drivers should have regular sight tests. With an estimated 2,900 road casualties caused by poor vision every year, lives are being put at risk every day.   

You can back the campaign by emailing your local MP, using a copy of the template letter available from the AOP’s website

You can also show your support on social media using the hashtag #DontSwerve. Visit us on Facebook and Twitter to see what we’re saying and help spread the word! 
Since 1 April 2014, the OCCS has assisted over 4,500 consumers and practices to resolve their consumer complaints. Jennie Jones, head of the OCCS, explains: ‘We are delighted that the OCCS  is seen as an effective and useful service, providing independent and impartial mediation and advice. The team does an amazing job ensuring that both the consumer and the practice feel heard, understood, and importantly, helped to find a very practical resolution to the complaint. Mediation is not about judgment or deciding who is right. It is about understanding each other’s perspective to be able to find an answer both can accept. We will soon be reporting on our 4th year in action, and look forward to sharing even more insight and useful information for all involved in optics.'