Thousands of motorists ‘losing their driver’s licences due to eyesight problems’

7th January 2013

Newly released statistics have revealed that almost 6,000 motorists lost their driver's licences in 2011 due to problems with their eyesight.

Official figures recorded by the Department of Transport underline that during that year, 5,285 licences for cars and motorbikes were revoked or rejected because the drivers concerned could not pass a standard eye test.

On top of this, 685 people who had driver's licences that allowed them to step behind the wheel of a bus or lorry were banned from taking to the road due to their deteriorating eyesight.

Another interesting point to take from the research is the fact that eyesight problems appear to be getting worse among drivers.

This theory is backed up when comparing the 2011 statistics to the figures recorded the previous year, where 4,906 car and motorcycle licences were revoked or refused, along with 493 lorry or bus applications, as a result of problems with a motorists' vision.

Transport minister Stephen Hammond opted to reveal the research after being posed with a series of parliamentary questions on the issue by Labour MP Meg Munn.

Upon detailing the statistics, Mr Hammond stated to the Daily Mail that "licensing rules have an important part to play in keeping our roads safe".

However, the transport minister acknowledged that while it is imperative that every motorist is deemed safe to step behind the wheel of a vehicle in the UK, any approach must work to avoid placing "unnecessary restrictions on people's independence".

Mr Hammond continued: "All drivers must meet certain minimum eyesight standards. There are additional checks for drivers of large goods vehicles and passenger carrying vehicles, which we strictly enforce. 

"This is to protect the driver and other road users given their size, the number of passengers and the likely additional distance and time spent on the road."

At the moment, anyone who undergoes a driving test in the UK is tasked to read a vehicle's number plate when standing 20 metres away from the motor in question. Anyone who is unable to pass this challenge automatically fails their practical test before even taking to the road.

On top of this, driving with defective eyesight is a motoring offence across Britain and motorists found to have broken the law in this way could be prosecuted. The offence may also lead to a person's motor insurance being invalidated as further punishment.

Despite all of this, there is currently no law in place in this country which requires drivers to undertake regular sight tests in order to prove their vision is still up to task.

As such, Ms Munn told the Daily Mail: "I will be continuing to seek further information to ensure that robust measures are in place to check drivers' vision, so we can continue to improve road safety.

"For most people it is simply a matter of getting their eyes tested to ensure they have glasses or contact lenses if required."

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