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Drivers over 70 may have to take compulsory eyesight tests in future

'Drivers have a legal duty to ensure that they are medically fit to drive'

Sabrina Barr
Friday 02 August 2019 09:22 BST
(Getty Images)

Drivers over the age of 70 may be required to take regular eyesight tests in the near future, the Department for Transport has stated.

The governmental department recently released its 2019 road safety statement, detailing its two-year "action plan" to address "road safety issues".

One of the issues highlighted in the report is the importance of good eyesight for drivers, primarily regarding elderly drivers.

The report stated that while drivers must renew their licences when they turn 70 and then subsequently every three years, it may be advisable for older drivers to also undergo regular eyesight tests as well.

"Further research is required to understand the extent to which vision issues pose a risk to road safety for drivers of all ages," the report read.

"The fitness required for driving is not just about good eyesight – manoeuvrability and reaction time are also essential. But good eyesight is important.

"We are minded to consider that there may be a case for mandatory eyesight tests at 70 and at three-year intervals thereafter, to coincide with licence renewal."

The Department for Transport stated that it is launching a research programme and literature review in order to assess the issue of poor vision among drivers, in collaboration with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

In the report, the department emphasised the fact that drivers of all ages "have a legal duty to ensure that they are medically fit to drive, to make sure that they have good eyesight to enable them to do so, and to notify DVLA of the onset or worsening of a medical condition affecting their capability to drive".

In June, Dame Judi Dench spoken openly about how her failing eyesight caused her to give up driving.

In an interview with Radio Times, the actor said that giving up driving was "one of the most traumatic moments" of her life.

"But I just know I'll kill somebody if I get behind the wheel of a car now," the 84-year-old said.

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In September, a police crackdown on drivers with failing eyesight was launched.

Every driver stopped by police officers from three forces during the month of September were required to read a numberplate from 20m away.

Any driver who failed the eyesight test had their driving licence revoked immediately.

It was reported that the data garnered from the test, which was run by police forces in Thames Valley, Hampshire and the West Midlands, was used to better understand the extent of poor vision among drivers.

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