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Millions of UK motorists risk driving with bad eyesight

09 May 2016 10:36:05

Poor eyesight Brits risk lives by driving image
Poor eyesight Brits risk lives by driving

Millions of motorists risk driving with bad eyesight, according to research from Direct Line Car Insurance. The study found that a fifth (21%) drivers who need glasses or contact lenses, drive without them – this equates to a staggering 13.3 million motorists in the UK.

Not only does this behaviour increase the risk of a road traffic accident by 400%, but it also puts motorists at risk of invalidating their insurance, receiving a £1,000 fine, and potentially even serving a prison sentence.

According to official government figures, 260 accidents in 2014 were caused by poor eyesight – nine of the accidents were fatal, and 56 were serious.

One in six (16%) of the motorists polled by Direct Line have had an accident in the past two years, but this soars to almost seven in 10 (67%) among those who should wear glasses or contact lenses, but don’t.

Good eyesight is one of the most basic requirements for safe driving, yet this latest research indicates that almost one in four (37%) of drivers haven’t had their eyesight tested in the past two years. To be legally allowed to drive in the UK, motorists must be able to read a car number plate from 20 meters away. If they cannot, their licence could be revoked and they may face prosecution. Motorists with eyesight below decimal 0.5 on the Snellen scale or conditions such as cataracts, must inform the DVLA.

Drivers are more likely to risk driving with uncorrected vision on short journeys, with more than a quarter (26%) admitting to having driven somewhere local, such as the doctors or supermarket, without glasses or contact lenses, in the past year.

The study also found that 15% have driven without wearing them on a journey of more than 50 miles, and worryingly, one in 10 (9%) haven’t worn them on the school run.

Direct Line’s director of motor insurance, Gus Park, recommended that motorists have their eyes tested at least every two years as a person’s eyesight can change significantly in as little as six months.

He also warned that driving with bad eyesight can be as dangerous as drink driving and anyone that causes death due to dangerous or careless driving as a result of poor vision could be face up to 14 years’ imprisonment.

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