In a Report published by European Vision Experts the UK comes bottom of the league table!
A report published by The European Council of Optometry and Optics (ECOO) (representing 75,000 optometrists, opticians and optical retail outlets across Europe, and EUROM I which represents the national associations of manufacturers of corrective lenses, frames, and instruments for opticians (700 companies) and also EUROMCONTACT representing the national associations and the international manufacturers of contact lenses and contact lens care products calls for better assessment of drivers’ vision to improve road safety
The Confederation in an explanatory press statement has stated that the UK lags behind other European countries in its requirements for testing drivers’ eyesight, according to this new report.
The report highlights substantial variation in the assessment of drivers’ vision across Europe, and recommends that Member States, including the UK, make moves to better assess drivers’ vision.
The EU has committed to halving road death across the EU by 2020. The goal is to achieve this by legislative means that change driver behaviour, raise the technical standards of vehicles and improve road design. The visual requirements to drive safely in European law are currently being implemented by EU Members States, including the UK which recently launched a consultation on the matter.
While many European countries have good systems in place to assess all drivers’ vision, the report notes that the UK and a small number of other countries continue to rely on an outdated assessment of vision known as the ‘Licence Plate Test’, believed not to be consistent with the underlying standards. Among the proposals put forward by the UK government in its consultation is to retain the Licence Plate Test for car and motorcycle drivers and to lower the current eyesight standard by reducing the distance at which the licence plate is read. In addition, the UK, along with France, Germany and four other countries, has no requirement for ongoing assessment of vision for these drivers, which is seen as a missed opportunity to improve road safety.
The report also recommends that the European Commission press those Member States that are dragging their feet to implement better screening of drivers’ vision before issuing a first licence, and when renewing a driving licence.
Jayne Rawlinson speaking on behalf of the Optical Confederation said: ‘The UK is at the bottom of the league when it comes to assessing drivers’ eyesight. We have been working to achieve better vision for safer driving in the UK and greatly value the support we have received from other road safety groups. We hope the UK Government will use this opportunity to ensure everyone drives with good vision.’
Mark Nevin speaking on behalf of the European Council of Optometry and Optics said: ‘The European Commission should be alert to those member states that are dragging their feet and refusing to implement appropriate assessments of vision, before issuing a first licence and during the driving career. Given that 90% of sensory information when driving comes from vision and poor vision impacts on driving performance, this must be an area with potential to deliver improvements in road safety.’