Government announces plans to include eye test reminder during driving license renewal

The Government has announced that it plans to work with the DVLA to include an eye test reminder when motorists renew their photocard driving license – in a milestone move announced in Parliament yesterday.

David Linden MP having a screening at the OCT machine, at a Vision Express event in Westminster

The concession came from Minister for Transport Legislation and Maritime, Mr John Hayes, following an approach by David Linden MP.

Mr Linden was speaking in support of the Vision Express ‘Eye Tests Save Lives’ campaign, which won backing from MPs and policy-makers on the significant road safety risks posed by motorists who avoid regular sight checks.

In response to suggestions on how motorists could be reached, Mr Hayes said:

We could do something very practical: we could get the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency to remind drivers of the importance of good eyesight in the letter that it sends to them when their licenses are renewed. We will certainly be doing that.

The commitment is a breakthrough in Vision Express’ two-year-long campaign to encourage Government to put eye health higher on the road safety agenda.

The optician held awareness-raising events at Westminster and Holyrood during Road Safety Week (20-26 November 2017) and welcomed over 50 MPs and MSPs, including Health Minister Philip Dunne and Scottish Minister for Transport and the Islands, Humza Yousaf.

A driving simulator demonstrated to parliamentarians how conditions such as glaucoma – one of the biggest causes of preventable vision loss in the world – can gradually steal up to 40% of sight without it being noticed.

Jonathan Lawson, Vision Express CEO, commented:

This is a huge coup for our ‘Eye Tests Save Lives’ campaign and rewards our efforts over the past two years, calling for more awareness among drivers of how dangerous it is to get behind the wheel without having a regular eye test.

We are already reaching out to the public with that message, but it was crucial for the Government to support it with simple measures, such as including a message to all drivers renewing their photocard license, which we believe will have a big impact.

We look forward to working with the Department for Transport to make sure the new eye health message to drivers promotes eye tests as an essential health check.

Currently, for most people, their only mandatory vision check is reading a registration plate from 20 meters away as part of a driving test. Reports estimate five million drivers on UK roads would fail this if they had to take it again.

Jonathan concludes:

We thank all of the MPs, including David Linden, for helping us address this crucial issue, and we hope that by committing to this eye test reminder, we can reduce the 2,900 annual road casualties caused by poor driver vision.

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