Hundreds of motorists have had their driving licence revoked after failing a roadside eye test since the introduction of Cassie’s law which gave police new powers.
Figures obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by the Press Association show that a total of 609 licences have been revoked since the law was established in 2013.
In 2011, 16-year-old Cassie McCord died from injuries sustained when motorist Colin Horsfall lost control of his car in Colchester, Essex.
It later emerged that three days before the accident, Essex police had advised 87-year-old Mr Horsfall not to drive after he was involved in a minor collision and subsequently failed a sight test. However, Mr Horsfall continued to drive and at the time police had no powers to immediately suspend his licence.
Following her daughter’s death, Cassie’s mother Jackie Rason successfully campaigned for a change in the law which allowed licences to be revoked more quickly by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).
Under the new law, known as Cassie’s law, when a police officer believes that the safety of other road users would be put at risk if a driver with insufficient eye sight remains on the road, they can ask for the licence to be urgently revoked. There are three levels of revocation under the new system; immediate, within 48 hours and postal.
If a banned motorist then continues to drive, they are committing a criminal offence which may lead to their arrest and their vehicle being seized.
AOP professional adviser, Geoff Roberson, comment to OT: “Whilst any reduction in the number of people driving with poor eyesight is to be welcomed it does highlight the need for a better system of driver regulation, less reliant on driver self-declaration.
“The AOP and the Optical Confederation have been trying to convince the government this is required.”
Figures revealed that since the law was introduced, police forces across the UK have applied 631 times for licences to be revoked based on failure to read number plates and 609 of those applications have been successful.
Ms Rason told the Press Association: “I had no idea until now that it was being used so widely, and it is very satisfying to know it is making a difference.”
She added: “That’s more than 600 people who could still be driving, perhaps without even knowing there was a problem with their sight.
“You can’t say that in every case they would have killed somebody, but it is very likely to have prevented fatal accidents and other casualties.”
Ms Rason hopes to continue campaigning for mandatory sight tests for all drivers, with additional examinations for those over the age of 70.
She said: “If your car is more than three years old, you have to have an MOT to certify it's roadworthy. Why shouldn't that be the same for drivers?”