Chris Bennett: Time to report visually impaired drivers to DVLA
Author: Chris Bennett
SMIDSY is an acronym common among cyclists and one that could equally be applied to optical bodies and politicians when it comes to drivers’ vision and road safety.
Sorry Mate I Didn’t See You is the stock phrase used by drivers when they’ve pull out in front of a cyclist or worse. The letters are shorthand for the phrase but also a euphemism for ‘I don’t really care’.
Drivers’ vision (read our In Focus report) is once again the subject of lobbying and campaigning, a state of affairs that should leave politicians, the optometry associations and the regulator holding their heads in shame. It was less than a year ago that this column called on the optical bodies to make reporting visually impaired drivers to the DVLA compulsory. That call fell on deaf ears.
Surveys and research shows unequivocally that there are hundreds of thousands of people driving around who do not meet the necessary standards. To my knowledge no one, anywhere has said the standard of drivers’ vision is acceptable.
People are dying on the roads because drivers with poor vision are left to self-regulate. In Focus highlights a study that suggests 92% of licence holders believe their vision is up to standard, although two-thirds don’t know what the standard is. In 2014 just 29,950 people surrendered their licences on all medical grounds out a total of 45.5m licences held that year. This issue cannot be left up to patients.
Presumably the other 8% of drivers know they don’t meet the standard but if the DVLA isn’t informed those 3.6m people could still be on the roads unable to see properly. You have to hope that neither you or a member of your family is around when they take to the wheel.