Police concern over driver eye tests

A NUMBER of motorists in north Essex had to be driven home by police after failing roadside eyesight tests during a month-long operation to improve the quality of driving on the county's roads.

By Sharon Asplin

A NUMBER of motorists in north Essex had to be driven home by police after failing roadside eyesight tests during a month-long operation to improve the quality of driving on the county's roads.

Road policing officers from Bocking teamed up with Essex County Council's road safety officers in the Braintree and Uttlesford district in July and stopped more than 1,300 drivers who were involved in road crashes or who were suspected of having poor vision.

Drivers must be able to read a registration plate from 20.5 metres away.


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Road policing Inspector Mark Harman was horrified that, although only 16 drivers failed the eyesight test, many more could only just meet the standard.

“In some cases, several people were driven home by my officers to ensure they did not pose any further danger to themselves, their passengers or any other road users,” said Insp Harman.

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“One woman admitted to not having had an eyesight test since the beginning of the decade despite wearing a pair of spectacles.

“Another woman failed the test and then told my officers that her glasses were in the boot of her car.

“She was asked to put them on, was spoken to by the council's road safety officers and then allowed to continue her journey.”

Those drivers who either failed or were close to failing were given advice on having their eyesight corrected as well as having the dangers of driving with defective eyesight highlighted to them.

They were then told to have their eyesight professionally corrected.

Road safety officer Elaine Beckett said: “With roads becoming busier each year, it has never been so important for every driver to be fit to drive.

“Good eyesight is vital to ensure drivers react promptly to the many hazards on our roads.

“Over 95 per cent of the information required to drive safely comes via our eye; therefore, if your eyesight is defective you may miss that vital piece of information to keep you, your passengers and other road users safe.”

Opticians recommend that people who wear spectacles have their eyesight tested every year, with others paying a visit to the high street every two years.

Inspector Mark Harman added: “I am sorry to report we have found so many drivers failing or barely able to see enough to drive.

“Eyesight deteriorates slowly, so many people don't realise how bad it has got.

“I ask all drivers to try a simple test outside your home. Can you easily read a car number plate 20m away? That's about five car lengths.

“If the answer is no, then its time to visit the optician and get your vision corrected before you drive again. You could unwittingly be endangering your life and others.”

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