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Meg Munn MP - Sheffield Heeley's voice in Parliament | Welcome
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Can drivers see to drive safely?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Meg Munn MP recently met representatives from the Optical Confederation to discuss various concerns about the sight standards for vehicle drivers.  Meg has been campaigning to raise awareness of the need for regular eye sight testing for drivers since she was contacted by constituent Joy Barnes, whose niece Fiona Buckley was tragically killed by an elderly driver with poor eye sight in 2008. The Optical Confederation is a national group of optical professionals, manufacturers, retailers and distributors.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) published its report on the consultation on driving licence standards for vision on 30th May 2012, although some changes to standards came into force on the 1st May 2012. Meg welcomes the changes, however she shares the Optical Confederations concerns that the number plate test has not been updated and there are still no requirements for formal vision testing, relying heavily on drivers to self-report relevant disabilities.

Meg commented:

“It is important that the DVLA get these vision standards right for drivers to reduce the risk of fatal accidents on the road, caused by drivers with unacceptable vision. Although some changes have been clarified, it is still not enough to show that the government are doing all they can to ensure the safety of all road users.”

The main changes announced are that Group 1 (cars and motorcyclists):

         Drivers will be required to declare when applying for a licence that they have never been told by an optician or doctor that their vision is below that of the minimum required standard (6/12, 0.5 decimal).

         Drivers who fail the number plate test, but meet 6/12 on Snellen testing (eye test using a letters chart) will still fail and no ‘exceptional cases’ will be allowed for those failing both tests.

         There will be no requirement for an optician’s certificate at the driving test or on licence application or renewal.

         The onus will be on the applicant or driver to notify the DVLA if a formal eye test reveals Visual Acuity of less than 6/12 and the licence will then be refused or revoked

         The current distance at which the number plate test is read will remain unchanged (20m).

For Group 2 (buses and lorries) drivers must have a visual acuity, using corrective lenses if necessary, of at least 6/7.5 (0.8 decimal) in the better eye and at least 6/12 (0.5 decimal) in the other eye. This is the result of a 2009 European Directive which should have been enacted by August 2010.

The changes to the vision standards for Group 1 and 2 drivers can be viewed here: http://www.dft.gov.uk/dvla/medical/Vision%20changes%2001-05-2012.aspx

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