Drivers who fail roadside eye test to have licence confiscated immediately under new police crackdown

Motorists stopped by road police officers will be required to read number plate from 20 metres

87-year-old driver with poor vision drives wrong way up motorway

A police crackdown on drivers with defective eyesight has been launched.

Every motorist stopped by officers from three forces in September will be required to read a numberplate from 20m away.

Anyone who fails will have their driving licence immediately revoked.

Data from the tests will be used to improve understanding of the extent of poor driver vision.

The initiative is being run by forces in Thames Valley, Hampshire and the West Midlands, and is supported by road safety charity Brake and optician firm Vision Express.

Sergeant Rob Heard, representing the police forces taking part in the campaign, said: "Not being able to see a hazard or react to a situation quickly enough can have catastrophic consequences."

He warned that officers will be carrying out eyesight checks "at every opportunity".

Officers can request an urgent revocation of a licence through the DVLA if they believe the safety of other road users will be put at risk if a driver remains on the road.

The power was introduced in 2013 under Cassie's Law, named after 16-year-old Cassie McCord, who died when an 87-year-old man lost control of his vehicle in Colchester, Essex.

It later emerged he had failed a police eyesight test days earlier, but a legal loophole meant he was allowed to continue driving.

Brake and Vision Express are calling for a recent eye test to be required when licences are renewed every 10 years.

Under current rules, the only mandatory examination of vision takes place during the practical test, when learners must read a numberplate from a distance of 20m.

Once someone has obtained their licence, it is currently up to them to tell the DVLA if they have a problem with their eyesight.

Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake, said: "It is frankly madness that there is no mandatory requirement on drivers to have an eye test throughout the course of their driving life.

"Only by introducing rigorous and professional eye tests can we fully tackle the problem of unsafe drivers on our roads."

Research by the Association of Optometrists published in November last year found that more than a third (35 per cent) of optometrists saw patients in the previous month who continued to drive despite being told their vision was below the legal standard.

A 2012 study by insurance firm RSA estimated that poor vision caused 2,874 casualties in a year.

Jonathan Lawson, chief executive of Vision Express, said: "We believe official Government statistics on the impact of poor sight on road safety are the tip of the iceberg and we know the public feel the same as we do about tackling poor driver vision."

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: "The human cost of driving with failing eyesight and having an accident can be immeasurable.

"Drivers mustn’t just keep their eyes on the road, they must ensure they can see what's ahead."

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