‘Make roads safer’: Mandatory eyesight tests for elderly drivers ‘should be the norm’

Dr Hilary discusses the risks for older drivers

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The Older Drivers Task Force released a report in which it called on new measures to be introduced to protect and boost road safety for elderly drivers. It said the DVLA should require evidence of an eyesight test at age 75, with the DVLA, insurers and others should encourage vision checks every two years, particularly from age 60.

There is evidence that when the police offer driving assessments as an alternative to prosecution nearly 70 percent of those assessed require eyesight correction.

In Hampshire, elderly drivers are offered the chance to undertake a referral course as an alternative for prosecution for careless driving after a crash.

Of those, 69 percent had eyesight deficiencies and even if these were not a direct contributory factor to the crash, they may well have been indicators of some other problem which did directly contribute to the crash.

Hampshire Police report that two thirds of older drivers who accept a local pilot NDORS ‘Fitness to Drive’ or ‘Driver Alertness’ course after being stopped for driving without due care and attention or careless driving go on to achieve a safe outcome.

Ian Mcintosh, CEO of RED Driving School, has commented on the new findings, saying it would be a mistake to introduce these new laws.

He said: “The Older Drivers Task Force’s suggested initiative would see over 70s who are caught carelessly driving offered a more lenient approach.

“This would mean that older drivers caught committing offences, such as accidentally running a red light or poor motorway lane discipline, are given an alternative to their younger counterparts; creating a two-tiered system for older and less mobile drivers.

“Any driver caught breaking the law on the road should be treated in the same way as all other drivers.

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“Ultimately, age should not be the determining factor for how drivers are penalised.

“At RED, we encourage all drivers to have regular refresher training courses, especially for older and less confident drivers.

“We also encourage drivers to have an eye test every two years, as well as regularly checking their own vision by reading number plates from a distance of 20 metres.

“These practices should be the norm for all drivers to help make roads safer for everyone and avoid this two-tiered system which will inevitably form under these newly suggested schemes.

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