When was your last eyesight test?
Despite changes in legislation five years ago when ‘Cassie’s Law’ came into place, it is estimated that over 50,000 UK motorcycle riders are still failing to meet the minimum legally required ‘standards of vision for driving’ as laid down by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). Looking then to casualty statistics, in 2012 research by insurance company RSA revealed that poor vision directly contributed to over 2800 road casualties.
Whilst motorcycle riders equate to just 1% of UK road traffic, each year they also represent over 20% of road accident fatalities, with a similar percentage representation in the UK’s overall accident statistics. Given the added vision related challenges of riding a motorcycle, it is thought that maintaining good eye health is of even greater significance for motorcycle riders.
What is Cassie’s law?
Cassie’s law gives the police the immediate power to revoke a motorists driving licence on the grounds of defective vision – as assessed by a roadside eye test. Cassie’s Law resulted from the campaigning of Jackie McCord, whose daughter (Cassie McCord) was killed in 2011 by a car driver, who was later found to have failed a police eye test just three days earlier. At the time, a loophole in the law meant that police were not able to act as decisively as they are today. Through a petition for change and Jackie McCord’s campaigning, 2013 saw the closing of this legal loophole, thereafter giving police forces all over the UK the enforcement powers needed to instantly revoke driving licences where motorists fail to meet the ‘standards of vision for driving’.
What is the roadside eye test?
The roadside eyesight test is the same as the ‘number plate test’ that riders are required to take prior to their practical motorcycle test. At the roadside, car driver and motorcycle riders will be asked to read a number plate from 20 metres (66ft). This distance, relating to about far car lengths, will be measured accurately and where the test is failed, the police have the legal power to impose an instant driving/riding ban.
2018 driver and rider crackdown on poor vision
For police forces in the West Midlands, Thames Valley and Hampshire, enforcement action was significantly increased in September. All motorists stopped by police officers during September were required to complete a roadside eyesight test and it is reported that those who failed the test, were given an on-the-spot ban. This regional motorist eyesight crackdown was supported by road safety charity Brake and Vision Express, with test data being used to better understand the continuing extent of poor driver and rider eyesight.
Jonathan Lawson, chief executive of Vision Express, said: “We believe official Government statistics on the impact of poor sight on road safety are the tip of the iceberg and we know the public feel the same as we do about tackling poor driver vision.”
Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake, said: “It is frankly madness that there is no mandatory requirement on drivers to have an eye test throughout the course of their driving life. Only by introducing rigorous and professional eye tests can we fully tackle the problem of unsafe drivers on our roads.”
Sergeant Rob Heard, representing the police forces taking part in the campaign, said: “Not being able to see a hazard or react to a situation quickly enough can have catastrophic consequences.”
Aside from the already well-known RSA research, in 2017 the Association of Optometrists published their own research revealing that a staggering 35% of optometrists had seen patients in the previous month who were continuing to drive or ride despite being advised that their eyesight was below the legally required standard.
What are the ‘standards of vision for driving’?
Car drivers and motorcycle riders are required to be able to read a car number plate from 20 metres. This has been the case since September 2001. Glasses or contact lenses can be worn if necessary. Drivers/riders must also meet a minimum visual acuity (as measured on the Snellen scale) and must have an adequate field of vision. In respect of the last measures of eyesight, only an optician’s test can confirm that these vision requirements are being met.
VideoBiker members get free eyesight tests
This is no doubt that eyesight tests save lives and we strongly recommend that riders should take full responsibility for their eye health, starting with a full optician’s eyesight test. On this basis, we have teamed up with Vision Express to offer VideoBiker members a free-of-charge motorcyclist’s eyesight test. [more]