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Meg Munn MP - Sheffield Heeley's voice in Parliament | Welcome
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Minister accused of complacency on road safety

Thursday, June 16, 2011

During a Parliamentary debate on eyesight testing requirements for drivers Meg Munn MP accused the Minister of taking a complacent approach toward the safety of road users. Meg secured the debate to highlight the inadequacies of the current eyesight test for drivers of cars after being contacted by constituent Joy Barnes whose niece Fiona Buckley was tragically killed by an elderly driver.


Fiona was crossing the road, with her friend Kay Pilley walking just behind. Witnesses said that the car approaching did not attempt to overtake or brake, but ran straight into them, and Fiona was thrown over the vehicle. She suffered a major head injury and her pelvis, spine and leg were broken. Six weeks later, she died in hospital from multiple organ failure. Kay suffered head and knee injuries and was treated at hospital; she could not remember what had happened.


Police officers subsequently tested the 87-year-old driver’s eyesight, and found that he could not read a car number plate from the required distance of 20.5 metres. He was later found to have cataracts in both eyes, which had probably been there for some 18 months. A doctor said it would give him “foggy or hazy” sight that could have rendered Fiona almost invisible to him. He also suffered from age-related macular degeneration, which blurs the central vision. With his right eye, he could see only from 6 metres what people with good vision can read from 24 metres.


Meg said:


“The Minster argued that the Government’s current arrangements strike the right balance between road safety and personal mobility. I was extremely disappointed to receive such a complacent response to what I, and many people agree to be a very important issue.


I will continue to lobby the Government on this issue, and I hope in future to get a more positive response.”


Mark Nevin on behalf of the Optical Confederation said:

“The Optical Confederation fully supports the comments made by Meg Munn MP on the 15th of June 2011 and we would like to thank her for raising this important issue in Parliament.


We welcome the recognition from the Minister that individuals should not be driving if they do not meet the requirements for vision but we are disappointed at the Government’s refusal so far to take steps to ensure that all drivers have adequate vision to drive safely. 


The UK is dragging its feet on driver vision screening, and falls significantly below the standards of our European partners.  We urge the Government to give this further consideration.”


Joy Barnes said:


“On behalf of Fiona’s family I would like to thank the Minister of State for Transport, Mrs Theresa Villiers for her condolences on the loss of a much loved daughter and niece. However, her words will provide us with little comfort as Fiona’s death could so easily have been prevented.


As a family we are extremely saddened that once again the Government’s stance is that money will be the deciding factor over what is a sensible way forward with a fundamental principle, this being that anyone driving a vehicle on the road should have eyesight which does not render them a danger to other road users, pedestrians or themselves.


As a family we are determined to continue to campaign for changes to the current eye sight test for drivers. Mr Cameron would have us believe that the Coalition Government is one of “listening” may I respectfully suggest that Mrs Villiers takes time to listen to those experts who are strongly advising that a change to the eyesight test for drivers is long overdue.”


To read Meg’s speech visit: http://www.megmunnmp.org.uk/press-view-entry.asp?type=Views&id=391


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