More than eight in ten Brits support the idea of second driving tests, including 96% of millennials, new research has found.
With eyesight deteriorating as people get older, opticians and optometrists are also backing the campaign.
Every year, around 200 accidents on UK roads are attributed to ‘uncorrected or defective eyesight’ with the latest Department for Transport data reporting that in 2018, 53 of these were serious incidents, with three fatalities.
The study of 2,000 UK drivers, conducted by Euro Car Parts, explored the nation’s attitudes towards driving with reduced vision and aims to raise awareness of the dangers.
While only a fifth of Brits think that people with bad eyesight should be banned from driving, there is strong support for the idea of retesting people after set time periods. More than eight in ten drivers think there should be some kind of second assessment, with the most popular timeframe being ten years after the initial test.
Unsurprisingly, older drivers are less likely to hold this view, with only two thirds of over 55s backing retests, compared to 96% of 25-34-year-olds.
Gautam Passi, Optometrist and Founder of Locumotive, the Optometry recruitment platform, supports the idea and says that a second driving test would make our roads far safer.
Gautam said: “Great eyesight is an essential component on safe driving, otherwise you may not spot and be able to react to hazards. However, as we age, our eyesight, as well as other crucial factors, like reaction time and mental cognition, naturally deteriorate, meaning we may no longer be safe on the road. Some eye conditions will inevitably result in dangerous driving and could be life-threatening.
“A second driving test would help identify those individuals who should give up their license for the safety of themselves and others.”
While all drivers are required to pass a simple eyesight check during their test, people are currently allowed to stay behind the wheel indefinitely without any future assessments.
There are no plans to change the current regulation, despite 70% of UK adults (approximately 29 million drivers) admitting that their eyesight has worsened since they passed. The figure is naturally greatest amongst over 55s (84%) but is still worryingly high for younger drivers. Over half of 18-24-year-olds and 25-34s confess that their vision has deteriorated.
Even those who wear contact lenses and glasses are regularly taking risks. Nearly a third admit to having previously driven without their visual aids, with around a quarter doing so either ‘often’ or ‘all of the time’.
If you are caught driving with limited eyesight, your license can be instantly revoked and over 7,000 Brits a year have theirs taken away for this reason.
To highlight the dangers of driving with poor eyesight, Euro Car Parts has launched a new online tool, where people can experience what it’s like to be behind the wheel with impaired vision.
Users can view a series of dashcam videos, taken during the day and at night, and apply different filters to replicate the vision of people with the five most common eye conditions – glaucoma, cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and retinas pigmentosa.
Chris Barella, Group Digital Director at Euro Car Parts, said: “Eye conditions affect millions of Brits and our research has shown how the vast majority of drivers have worse eyesight now than when they passed their test.
“With so many accidents occurring each year as a result of poor vision, there is surely a strong argument for retesting drivers, both on their driving ability and their eyesight. Our study has shown that such a move would be popular across the country, and potentially help to reduce the number of casualties on our roads.”
To experience what it’s like to drive with different eye conditions, you can use Euro Car Parts’ Eyes on the Road tool here: https://www.eurocarparts.com/eyes-on-the-road/index.htm