24 November 2017
David Stewart MSP has lent his support for calls to improve awareness among Scottish drivers about the importance of having an up-to-date eye test before getting behind the wheel.
t is estimated that crashes involving a driver with poor vision cause 2,900 casualties each year across the UK. Research by Vision Express and OnePoll finds that 15% of drivers had not had an eye test since they passed their driving test - on average - 14 years previously.
Attending an event in the Scottish Parliament yesterday David Stewart tested a driving simulator replicating the experience of driving with Glaucoma.
The event - hosted by Vision Express - coincided with Road Safety Week 2017 (Nov 20-26) and was designed to help raise awareness about the importance of having regular eye tests.
David Stewart said: “Many people don’t realise that changes in sight can be gradual, and experts say that it’s possible to lose up to 40% of your vision before even noticing it.
“That’s why drivers of all ages have a responsibility to themselves, their passengers, other road users and pedestrians to ensure they take their eye health seriously.
“Using the driving simulator I experienced for myself just how debilitating and dangerous it can be to drive with impaired vision.”
New polling published this week by Vision Express reveals that many people who drive as part of their job - who between them clock up billions of miles each year on Scotland’s roads - are not taking regular eye tests.
The YouGov research polled Scots who drive for work, and found that:
● Almost a quarter are not having regular eye tests
● 4% haven’t had a test in at least 10 years
● 3% have never had their eyes tested
● 14% would flout the requirement to voluntarily inform the DVLA if an eye test showed they were unfit to drive
● Over a third (38%) say their job would be at risk if their eyesight fell below the standard to drive. In fact, 27% would lose their job if they lost their licence
David Stewart said: “Van and HGV traffic is on the rise thanks in part to the growth in online shopping & deliveries.
“It’s absolutely vital that these drivers in particular, who spend much of their day in transit, take their eye health seriously.
“You wouldn’t get behind the wheel of your car if it didn’t have an up-to-date MOT, so why would you put your own lives and the lives of others at risk by driving with defective eyesight?
“That’s why I would encourage the Scottish Government to do everything it can to spearhead ongoing driver awareness campaigns, using existing infrastructure and communications channels including websites and social media to reinforce and champion existing NHS guidance which recommends eye tests every two years.”
In 2016, there were 44,048 work-related road casualties.
A quarter of the drivers surveyed in Vision Express' research considered sub-standard sight to be among the most significant road safety hazards and almost nine in 10 (84%) claimed to feel unsafe if other road users have poor vision.
Jonathan Lawson, Vision Express CEO, said: “The Health & Safety Executive estimates that a third of all road traffic accidents involve someone who is at work, so ensuring these individuals have eye sight that is up to scratch can have a significant impact on improving road safety.
“Vision Express is calling on the Scottish Government to help us to raise awareness about the importance of regular eye tests for drivers. To this end we’re delighted that the Scottish Government has agreed to display awareness messages on Scottish roads, alerting drivers to the importance of good eye health.”