You probably saw the announcement recently that the Police are about to start a pilot where, in three areas in the south of England, they will check the vision of drivers at every opportunity. Any drivers who fail to reach the DVLA standard will have their licences revoked there and then.
As you might expect I have mixed views about this development. On the one hand I strongly welcome anything that makes our roads safer – and I know from experience that there are drivers who continue to drive after being told that they are no longer legal to do so, or who drive without glasses when they know that they are only legal with them on.
On the other hand I know that roadside testing of eyesight is not an exact science. The legal standard that we are all expected to achieve every time we get behind the wheel refers specifically to ‘in good light’. In an Optometrist’s consulting room the light level is very carefully controlled (or it should be) so that successive measurements over several years all refer to the same thing, not just between visits but also if the driver concerned has their eyesight checked at different establishments.
Out on the road the level of light varies enormously. It would clearly be ridiculous to expect a test taken at night in a poorly lit side street to give the same result as one taken on a bright sunny day. Similarly there are conditions, such as early cataract, where looking towards a source of light such as the sun gives much worse vision than when looking away from it. It would appear reasonable to say that drivers with early cataract should have their vision measured in the worst conditions so as to be sure that they can reach the standard at all times. But as yet the DVLA standards – which are the law – do not say this. Similarly a driver with early cataract will see better looking towards the sun if they are wearing a hat with a peak or a big brim. Expect lots of legal cases while that gets sorted out.
However it all turns out it would indeed be wonderful to rid the roads of the sort of driver recorded on video a few years ago walking up to each car in a car park and bending down to peer at the number plates before identifying his own car, getting in and driving off.
If you’re not certain that you would pass if you were stopped then call in to ask for advice.