Steering towards better road safety by tackling driver sight
While safeguarding roads in the UK quite rightly raises concerns around speeding, mobile phone use and tiredness, to name a few, for many years the importance of motorists’ sight being up to scratch has been neglected.
To mark Road Safety Week 2017 (20-26 November) our CEO, Jonathan Lawson, gives his take on the dangers posed by drivers with below-par sight, and how Vision Express is leading calls to address the issue…
Every year, there are an estimated 2,900 casualties resulting from crashes involving a driver with poor vision, yet 50% of sight loss is preventable. Worrying, isn’t it, that a simple, quick health check every two years might have stopped those people from becoming statistics?
The danger of drivers who are getting behind the wheel every day with sub-standard sight has been an issue we’ve campaigned on for several years – and with some success. As part of our ‘Eye Tests Save Lives’ initiative, motorists in Wales and Scotland were reminded to have an eye test through electronic signs on major roads, and Scotland is adopting a range of messages to broadcast on its transport network again this month. Yet we know it’s not enough.
That’s why, for 2017 we’ve once again taken the Government to task on the subject. This month we’re holding receptions in Westminster and Holyrood to encourage policy-makers to address the correlation between motorist vision problems and road incidents, in a bid to put driver sight higher on the political agenda.
We’re calling on the Government to take even small steps, such as reminding drivers when they renew their photo card licence to have an eye test.
Others in the industry and beyond are beginning to echo our thoughts on the issue. Jeremy Vine’s Radio 2 show featured driver sight recently and we were pleased to be given the chance to talk about the steps we’re taking to combat the problem.
In addition to lobbying for policy change, this year we’re specifically reaching out to people who drive for work – and their employers, who have a responsibility to educate staff about eye health.
Our new research, released with YouGov, alarmingly reveals that a quarter of Britons who drive for work are not having regular eye tests, and are putting their licences and livelihoods at risk. Worse still, 6% haven’t had one in at least 10 years, and 2% confessed to never having had their eyes tested.
And with a growing number of people driving long distances for work, from delivery drivers to taxis and private hire vehicles to those in field-based roles, we found that employability could be at risk because of eye test ignorance. Over a third (39%) told us they would be putting their job on the line if their eyesight did not meet the minimum requirement to drive, with 27% admitting they would lose their job if they lost their licence.
Making it an easy decision to have an eye test is one tangible way we can help. Last year we saw a record 9,000 eye tests booked during Road Safety Week, which is a significant peak. So we’re removing the question of affordability once again this year, by offering free eye tests to drivers nationwide [see here for details].
It may be a long road to travel before we can put a complete stop to road accidents caused by poor driver vision, but it’s a journey we’re incredibly passionate about and we’ll continue to make it a priority.
If you want to help, please let others know about our free eye test offer, available until 26 November and visit our dedicated Road Safety Week website here: www.visionexpress.com/road-safety-week-2017