Drivers told to

check eyesight

AS part of the driving test new drivers are asked to read a number plate at a certain distance to see if their eyesight is up to scratch.

But for many, that is the last time they will be tested, and GEM Motoring Assist is calling on drivers of all ages to book an eye test as soon as possible.

The suggestion supports new research from Vision Express which reveals that 15 per cent of drivers haven't had any form of eye test since reading a number plate at 20 metres as part of their driving test - on average 14 years ago.

The research also shows that although 92 per cent of drivers claim they meet the minimum legal eyesight requirement for driving, more than 60 per cent cannot identify what this is.

GEM road safety officer Neil Worth said: "Our eyes are the most important sense we have when it comes to driving. Around 90 per cent of the information we process is visual, so what we see is a fundamental element of our decision making.

"GEM has long argued the case for compulsory regular eyesight testing for drivers of all ages. The present situation relies on individual drivers taking responsibility for their own eye health. That's why it's so important to get regular checks.

"Our eyes can develop diseases in their own right, or may be affected by other conditions such as diabetes."

GEM has prepared five simple tips to encourage the best possible eye health for all drivers:

1. Get an eye test. The guidelines are every two years until the age of 70, and annually after this. Eye tests are free for anyone aged over 60.

2. If you have been told you must wear glasses for driving, then make sure you wear them. Failure to do so not only puts you and those around you at higher risk, but it could also invalidate your insurance if you're involved in a collision.

3. Always carry a spare pair of glasses with you, especially on long journeys or when driving abroad. In some countries it's a legal requirement and you can be fined if you do not carry the mandatory spare glasses.

4. If driving at night is causing you discomfort, do get your eyes tested. A wide range of conditions and diseases, including cataracts, can contribute to poor night vision.

5. Don't deal with night-time glare by wearing sunglasses or tinted lenses. If glare is causing you discomfort, try adjusting the height of your seat, and make a point of not staring into the headlights of an oncoming car or truck.

The police have the power to require a driver, at any time, to undertake an eyesight test in good daylight. The maximum penalty for driving with defective sight is £1,000, three penalty points or a discretionary disqualification.

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