Drivers should be forced to take an eye test every ten years, leading experts have said.
The Association of Optometrists (AoP) warned that current British laws regarding vision requirements for drivers were insufficient.
They are among the most relaxed in Europe and involve no mandatory eye exam, apart from the requirement to read a number plate on a parked vehicle during the practical driving test, which many take as a teenager.
Drivers have to renew their licence when they get to 70 and then every three years after that. However, this only involves filling in a form declaring they are fit to drive and that their health and vision does not stop them from driving safely.
Nine out of ten optometrists believe the current rules do not go far enough and one in three say they have seen patients in the last month who continue to drive with vision below the legal standard, the AoP said. Based on this figure it is estimated that around one million people could be driving despite not meeting the legal minimum standards.
A separate poll of more than 2,000 road users found that 30 per cent had driven despite doubting the standard of their eyesight and only 40 per cent said they would stop driving if they were told their vision was below the legal standard for driving. A quarter said they have delayed getting their eyes checked despite suspecting their sight had deteriorated.
Calls for compulsory sight tests are something Richard Langton, specialist serious injury lawyer at Slater and Gordon, in Birmingham, wholeheartedly supports.
Indeed, earlier this year Richard called for a law to be created requiring any medical professional aware of a person’s inability to drive safely to report them to the DVLA so that their licence is withdrawn.
He made the plea for ‘Poppy’s Law’ along with the family of Poppy-Arabella Clark who was killed by a pensioner who had been told to stop driving because of poor eyesight.
He said: “Medical professionals tell people they are not fit to drive but whether that person actually notifies the DVLA is really up to them.
“This could and does end in fatalities as we saw in the tragic case of three year old Poppy-Arabella. I’d support any measure that is taken to stop people driving when they’re unfit to do so and mandatory sight tests is a real step in the right direction to keep people safe on our roads.”