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Don’t drive if you’re concerned about your eyesight, advises GEM

Don’t drive if you’re concerned about your eyesight, advises GEM

ROAD SAFETY organisation GEM Motoring Assist is urging drivers to avoid getting behind the wheel if they have any concerns about their eyesight. During recent months, with routine eyesight tests hard or impossible to come by, some drivers may have become aware of changes in their vision, and GEM is asking them to do the responsible thing and avoid driving.

GEM road safety officer Neil Worth comments: “GEM has long campaigned for more rigorous and routine eyesight testing in the interests of road safety. If you are concerned about changes to the quality of your vision, please don’t put yourself and others at risk by driving. Instead wait to have a proper eyesight test before you get behind the wheel.

“There are simply no excuses for driving when you’re unsure you can see properly, as you risk causing injury not only to yourself but to your passengers and anyone else who happens to be in your way.

“Poor eyesight is linked to more than 3,000 fatal and serious injury collisions every year. We believe all drivers should have an eye test every two years, just to ensure there are no safety concerns about their vision and to deal with any developing issues at an early stage.” 

The current eyesight test was introduced to the driving test in 1937 and has only been amended in minor ways over the years to reflect changing number plate sizes. It is the only eyesight test drivers are required to undertake until they reach the age of 70.   

According to GEM, the test is crude and outdated, as it only measures visual acuity (sharpness). It could also quite easily examine a driver’s field of view, as is done in many US states, to check whether motorists can see and react to what’s happening around them.

Neil Worth adds: “Asking someone to read a number plate at 20.5 metres (67 feet) cannot on its own be a measure of their fitness to continue driving. A proper eye test will also measure peripheral awareness, eye coordination, depth perception, ability to focus and colour vision. Before getting back on the road after lockdown, we encourage every driver with any eyesight concerns to book a test and ensure everything is in order.”

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