Poor eyesight linked to 3,000 UK collisions annually

We have a line-up of simple tips to ensure drivers have good vision on their journeys. British road safety organisation Gem Motoring Assist says it’s vital to reduce the number of people of all ages who drive with defective vision.

This would contribute to reducing the number of fatal and serious injury collisions which occur every year on the UK’s roads because of poor eyesight, according to Gem. It is unlikely to be much different on Irish roads.

Top tips for looking after your eyes:

  • To be as safe as possible on the road as a driver, it’s vital to ensure your vision is good enough.
  • If your vision has deteriorated, you need to ensure it is corrected by glasses or contact lenses as necessary.
  • Changes in vision can be so slow that you may not notice. That’s why it’s so important to let a professional give your eyes a thorough examination every two years.
  • Early signs that your sight may be changing include eye strain, unusual headaches and difficulty in seeing at night or when light conditions change.
  • It’s easy to get an eyesight test at your local optician – it’s inexpensive and you may even qualify for a free test.

Chief executive of Gem, Neil Worth said: “Poor eyesight is linked to nearly 3,000 fatal and serious injury collisions every year in the UK.

“We are concerned that there are too many people driving with defective eyesight that has deteriorated to a dangerous level. Figures suggest between two and three per cent of drivers are using the roads with vision that fails to meet the minimum standards2.

“We urge everyone to prioritise safety and ensure they have a proper eye examination with an optician every two years. Eye tests allow professionals to identify and correct any problems, meaning the risks of driving are reduced and the road environment is safer.”

The current UK test requires a driver to be able to read a vehicle number-plate at a distance of 20 metres (65 feet) in good daylight.

Gem is keen to support people who wish to stay behind the wheel for longer. But safety has to be the priority. Under the present regulations, it’s down to individual responsibility for drivers to declare themselves fit to drive.

“The problem is that we are unlikely to notice many of the changes to our vision,” Worth added. “It takes a professional examination to reveal changes to our visual acuity, peripheral awareness, eye coordination, depth perception, ability to focus and colour vision.

“That’s why having an eye test every two years is a key part of being a responsible driver, whatever your age, just to ensure there are no safety concerns about your vision and to deal with any issues at an early stage.”

In the UK, eye tests are free to those aged 60 or over, under 16 years of age and anyone aged 16 to 18 and in full time education. For others, an eye test typically costs less than £30.