Trade release

AOP calls for tighter vision regulations for drivers

We’re inviting practitioners to join our second Don’t swerve a sight test campaign. Read our press release for the optical sector to find out about getting involved.

07 Nov 2018

The Association of Optometrists (AOP) is inviting practitioners to get involved in its second Don’t swerve a sight test driving and vision campaign ahead of Road Safety Week (19-25 November). The campaign, which in 2017 attracted significant national media interest, highlights the importance of regular sight tests for motorists and calls for a change in the law that would see all drivers required to prove that their vision meets the legal standard at least every 10 years.

The campaign has been developed from the AOP’s Voice of Optometry member insight research which found that nine in 10 optometrists believe that the current sight requirements for a driving licence are insufficient. The 2018 survey, which included over 1200 practising optometrists, also found that 44 per cent of respondents had seen a patient, in the past month, who had vision below the legal standard, yet continued to drive against advice1.

An additional public pollcommissioned by the AOP found that:

  • Around half (47 per cent) the public agreed that the laws on vision for driving should be more rigorous – compared to just four per cent who believed they need to be relaxed
  • Of those who want more rigorous laws – half (49 per cent) believed a compulsory sight test should be part of a licence being granted, and a quarter (26 per cent) wanted motorists to have a sight test at least every 10 years
  • Nearly nine in 10 (86 per cent) regular drivers would be happy to have their vision checked every five years or more frequently 
  • However, one in 20 (six per cent) admitted they’ve doubted whether their own vision is good enough to drive yet have done nothing about it
  • Nearly nine in 10 (86 per cent) of regular drivers would be happy to have their vision checked every five years or more frequently
  • Shockingly, one in 10 (12 per cent) of the regular drivers surveyed would continue driving as normal if told their vision could not be corrected to meet the legal standard, while 42 per cent would continue to drive in some capacity, such as cutting back on short journeys or only driving locally
  • A quarter (27 per cent) of the public would do nothing if they knew a friend or family member who continued to drive with poor eyesight

The campaign is being supported by Gillian Jones, whose father, Ambrose Skingle, was killed in 2012 by a driver with vision below the legal standard for driving. Ms Jones said: “I know some people don’t want to have a sight test because they don’t want the bad news that they have to stop driving. I’d like them to think of the consequences, both to themselves and to others. I think most people would feel awful knowing they were responsible for taking a life. Drivers have got to look at the bigger picture.”

Optometrist and AOP Professional Advisor, Henry Leonard said: "It is shocking that so many drivers are overlooking the importance of good vision. Sight loss can often be gradual, and people may not notice changes that could affect their ability to drive. This campaign is about reminding drivers that regular visits to their optometrist are the best way to make sure they meet the legal standard for driving and help make our roads safer.”  
 
As part of the campaign, the AOP recommends that drivers get a sight test every two years, to maximise their eye health and make sure they are road safe. The AOP is calling on the optical sector to support the campaign by using materials in the campaign pack including a patient advice video and leaflet, and a template letter to raise this issue with their local MP.

More information about the campaign is available from www.aop.org.uk/dontswerve      

Ends

High resolution images and the campaign video can be access in this Dropbox folder.

For more information, please contact Emily Campbell, Interim PR and Media Manager, at the Association of Optometrists, emilycampbell@aop.org.uk or telephone 020 7549 2040.

Notes to Editors

Association of Optometrists

The Association of Optometrists (AOP) is the leading representative membership organisation for optometrists in the UK. We support over 80% of practising optometrists, to fulfil their professional roles to protect the nation’s eye health. For more information, visit www.aop.org.uk

Ambrose Skingle

Ambrose Skingle, 86, died after being hit by motorist Peter Cole, 87, in January 2012. Mr Cole was found to have vision below the legal standard at the scene and was only able to read a number plate by 7.5 meters away. He later admitted to making a false statement to obtain his driving licence despite knowing his vision was not fit for driving and was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment and a six-year driving ban by Chelmsford Crown Court.

Notes

1 The Voice of Optometry panel was set up and launched in 2017 by the AOP and conducted by Alpha Research. All qualifying AOP members with email addresses were invited to take part in the second survey from 27 February 2018. 1246 practising optometrists completed the online survey by the closing date of 4 April 2018

2  Mortar London polled 2001 people in October 2018. Of the 2001 surveyed, 1386 were car owners who drive regularly.