RCOphth’s Driving Standards Representative to the DVLA, Ian Pearce, welcomes the Safety report and action plan from the DT published on 19 July.
The report highlights the importance of good eyesight for road safety and the value of assessing reductions in visual function. Changes to vision, for drivers of all ages, should be identified as quickly as possible because this can pose a risk to road safety for all road users.
However, more research is required to understand the extent to which vision issues pose a risk to road safety. We welcome the DTs decision to launch a research programme and literature review, in partnership with DVLA, to assess how far poor vision is or may become a road safety problem in the UK, and if there is a requirement for a new vision test to identify drivers who pose a collision risk.
It will be important to analyse the results of such research to assess whether there may be a case for mandatory eyesight tests at 70 and at three-year intervals thereafter, to coincide with licence renewal.
The preservation of vision is fundamental to secure an independent lifestyle, and we need to recognise how driving provides this together with the ability to work and care for dependents. It is therefore very important not to unnecessarily restrict the eligibility to drive unless there is robust evidence of a safety issue.