Police forces in Thames Valley, Hampshire and West Midlands have run a month-long campaign targeting driver eyesight, revoking the licences of those who don’t pass the 20 m numberplate check.
Throughout September, anyone stopped by Road Policing Officers in these areas were required to take the numberplate reading test, and those who failed had their licence immediately revoked.
Police said data was collected from each test and will be used to gain “an improved understanding of the extent of poor driver eyesight on our roads”, which, it has been suggested, is vastly underreported in government statistics.
The activity, backed by road safety charity Brake, was part of a wider campaign to encourage the public and the government to take driver vision seriously.
An estimated 1.5 million UK licence-holders have never had an eye test and crashes involving a driver with defective eyesight are thought to cause 2900 casualties every year on the UK’s roads.
However, the UK’s driver vision testing remains “inadequate and antiquated”, said Brake, requiring only a 20m numberplate check when a person takes driving test and nothing else for the rest of their driving life.
The UK is one of only five EU countries to have such low standards, the safety charity said.
Brake, alongside Vision Express, is urging the government to tighten up UK driver vision laws and make eyesight testing compulsory before the driving test and each time a driver renews their photocard licence.
“All of us require good vision to drive safely on our roads – not being able to see a hazard or react to a situation quickly enough can have catastrophic consequences,” said Sergeant Rob Heard, representing the police forces taking part in the campaign.
“The legal limit is being able to read a numberplate at 20 m, around five car lengths; however this is a minimum requirement and a regular eyesight test with an optician is a must if we are going to be safe on the road.
“Since 2013, the police have a new procedure – Cassie’s Law – to fast-track notification to the DVLA should they find someone who cannot read a number plate at 20m in daylight conditions. Offending motorists will within an hour have their licence revoked and face prosecution.”