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Meg Munn MP - Sheffield Heeley's voice in Parliament | Welcome
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Meg wins road safety award for her campaign on driver eyesight

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sheffield Heeley MP Meg Munn has been awarded Brake and Direct Line’s Road Safety Parliamentarian of the Month Award for her campaign to introduce regular eye tests for drivers.

In 2009, Meg was contacted by constituent Joy Barnes whose niece Fiona Buckley was run over and killed while crossing the road in 2008 by a driver with defective eyesight. Meg decided to start a campaign for driver eye tests to be carried out by qualified practitioners using a scientifically-recognised method instead of the current number-plate test. In addition she wanted drivers to be re-tested at least every 10 years, at the same time as applying for a new licence photocard.

Over the past two years Meg has lobbied government, asking questions in Parliament and leading debates there. The campaign has received support from national organisations including Brake, Eye Health Alliance, Specsavers and The Optical Confederation, who recognise the evidence that the current regime is inadequate in protecting the public from drivers with defective eyesight.

In February 2011 the government announced proposals to make the current test even easier, by reducing the distance from which drivers have to read a number-plate to just 17 metres. Meg responded by working with Brake to call on the government to abandon its proposals and listen to the public demand for regular eyesight testing.

During National Eye Health Week in June 2011 Meg secured a Parliamentary debate on driver eyesight testing. Meg was disappointed with the response as the Minister defended current arrangements, although the debate did help to raise awareness of the issue among MPs. Meg also carried out a media campaign urging drivers to consider whether their eyesight would meet the minimum requirements, including through an interview on BBC Radio Sheffield and coverage in the Sheffield Star and Sheffield Telegraph.

Meg has also questioned Road Safety Minster Mike Penning several times in Parliament on the issue. In September Meg asked him if he would conduct a cost-benefit analysis of the replacement of the number-plate test with a comprehensive eye test by a qualified practitioner when taking their driving test, and at 10 year intervals. The Minister responded by stating that the government has no plans to do so.

Meg argues the cost of implementing regular, comprehensive eyesight tests would be minimal. However, the benefits would be great, providing reassurance that drivers meet minimum standards to drive safely and helping to prevent crashes and casualties, which are devastating to families and a huge cost burden on emergency services and the NHS.

Meg said:

“I’m delighted to have been awarded Road Safety Parliamentarian of the month. Having your eyes tested is such a simple thing, and we know it saves lives. I’d encourage all drivers to have their eyes tested regularly.”

Julie Townsend, Brake campaigns director, said:

“As a charity that supports families devastated by road deaths and injuries, we recognise how vital it is to ensure all drivers have good eyesight. Being able to see clearly is fundamental to safe, responsible driving.

We hope to see common sense winning through: to make our roads safer we need a scientific eyesight test carried out at the start of your driving career and regularly throughout it. We would like to thank Meg for her continued hard work pushing this vital issue.”


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