Clearly case of poor sight rather than bad light driving at night

You may not realise your sight is not as sharp as it should be until you have an eye test.

You may not realise your sight is not as sharp as it should be until you have an eye test. - Credit: Archant

Making sure your eyesight is up to scratch for driving is brought into sharp focus for motoring editor Andy Russell.

My wife had been complaining the headlights on her MINI were not as bright as they should be when on dipped beam on dark country roads.

As the dutiful husband, I’ve made sure they are clean and the bulbs are as bright as they should be.

Even though I know I am normally wrong, I even took her car out on unlit roads at night but could find nothing amiss with them. They seemed no different than they had been for the last three years.

It had even got to the stage where I was considering talking to the dealership about whether we could upgrade to brighter bulbs or lights if it made her feel safer and happier.

But then my wife drove me one night in her car and I noticed we were travelling at no more than 40mph on a road that was safe at 60mph even in the dark.

When I asked her why we were travelling slowly she explained that the lights were not bright enough to go any faster. That’s when I thought it might be a case of her sight rather than lack of bright light.

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Having had her eyes tested 18 months earlier, and not due for her two-yearly check-up, she booked an eye test to be on the safe side.

She was quite alarmed to find how much her prescription had changed – she actually now needs varifocal lenses which explains why she was peering over her glasses to read!

Road safety organisation GEM Motoring Assist says better regulation of eyesight tests for drivers would cut collisions and make Britain’s roads safer.

GEM says a detailed test of a driver’s visual acuity and field of view should be required every 10 years.

Chief executive David Williams said: “Speeding, drink or drug-driving, driving unlicensed… these are responsible for a fraction of the crashes on our roads compared with failing to look properly, according to all the official data.”

The eyesight test was introduced to the driving test in 1937 and has only been amended in minor ways over the years to reflect changing number plate sizes. It is the only eyesight test drivers are required to undertake until the age of 70.

According to GEM, the test is crude and outdated, as it measures only visual acuity (sharpness). It could also quite easily examine a driver’s field of view, as in many American states, to check whether motorists can see and react to what’s happening around them.

My wife’s new glasses cost about the same as our insurance excess – had she had an accident – but saved the expense of new headlights!