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! 
2016-17 has been an incredibly busy year for the OCCS. As practices become more aware of what we do, and consumers learn more about the service, we have seen an increase of 45% in complaint enquiries. There are over 22 million sight tests and eye examinations each year. The overwhelming majority of these are an efficient and positive experience for the consumer and the practice. The OCCS is here to help when a complaint arises and on the rare occasion, that the consumer’s concerns cannot be resolved. Just over half of the enquiries received concern complaints at an early stage and we encourage the consumer to raise their concerns with the practice. If matters cannot be resolved, we are here and I am incredibly proud of the OCCS team’s commitment and dedication to helping find a resolution for both parties. The 2016-17 OCCS Annual Report is now available and provides more information on the OCCS activity during 2016-17 and what we can learn from these complaints and enquiries going forward.