Thousands of drivers have been banned from the road because they cannot see properly, according to the latest figures.
The Department for Transport (DfT) revoked or blocked 5,285 licences for cars and motorbikes in 2011 because the motorists could not pass a standard eye test. This is an increase of eight per cent since 2010, when 4,906 motorists were banned.
The number of lorry or bus drivers who had their licences revoked or banned has increased by 39 per cent, from 493 in 2010 to 685 in 2011.
Transport minister Stephen Hammond revealed the figures in response to parliamentary questions from Labour MP Meg Munn. He said: “Licensing rules have an important part to play in keeping our roads safe. We must make sure that only those who are safe to drive are allowed on our roads while at the same time avoiding placing unnecessary restrictions on people’s independence.”
Under DfT rules, drivers must be able to read a car number plate from 20 metres in order to pass a driving test. But once a driver has passed their test, there are no further compulsory eyesight tests. Instead, drivers assess themselves when renewing their licence to ensure that they meet the required standard.
Mr Hammond continued: “If the DVLA is made aware that a licence holder may not meet the minimum eyesight standards for driving then they will investigate. If it is confirmed that a driver does not meet the standards, the DVLA will revoke the licence.”
Driving with defective eyesight is an offence and a driver who does not meet the required standard could be prosecuted or have their insurance invalidated. But the Government has ruled out introducing mandatory eye tests for drivers looking to renew their licence.
What’s your view on the issue? Is the Government right to take no action or should it toughen the rules?