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Today (Monday, February 27) marks the start of a national road safety campaign highlighting motorists’ legal obligation to ensure their vision is roadworthy every time they get behind the wheel.
As part of the ‘Is Your Vision Roadworthy?’ initiative, which is being supported by a host of motoring, road safety and optical organisations, Northamptonshire Police will be conducting roadside vision screening across the county over the next fortnight (February 27 – March 12).
Sergeant Greg Gostage of Northamptonshire’s Roads Policing Team said: "Most drivers know that worn or defective tyres on their vehicle can result in a fine and penalty points, but they are less likely to realise that driving with uncorrected defective eyesight is punishable with a fine of up to £1,000, three penalty points and possible disqualification. Not to mention it can also increase your risk of a collision occurring.
"Ninety per cent of the information a driver uses is visual," Sgt Gostage added, "so we want to use the roadside screening to raise awareness of the fundamental importance of good eyesight. Drivers who fail to meet the required standards are not only breaking the law but putting themselves and other road users at risk.”
The voluntary roadside vision screening will ask drivers to read a number plate from a distance of 20 metres. All tests will be conducted in good daylight conditions, using a registration plate affixed to a vehicle at the correct measured distance (20m), with the driver wearing any eyesight correction (e.g. spectacles) worn at the time of driving.
Under legislation known as Cassie’s Law, drivers who fail a roadside number plate test could have their licence revoked on the spot if a police officer deems them to be unsafe on the road. Other penalties for not meeting the legal eyesight standards include a possible fine or penalty points on your licence.
In addition to the 20m number plate test the legal eyesight standards require motorists to have adequate fields of vision. The DVLA must also be notified about certain eyesight conditions. There are different standards for bus and lorry drivers (Group 2).
Full details of the legal eyesight standards for all motorists can be found at gov.uk/driving-eyesight-rules.
Vision can decline gradually without you realising, so eye experts recommend all motorists have regular sight tests – every two years unless advised otherwise by your optometrist – to help ensure your vision remains roadworthy.
Chief Constable Jo Shiner, National Police Chief Constable Lead for Roads Policing comments: “Personal responsibility is the starting point for safer roads. Making sure your eyesight meets the standards of vision for driving is important and something only you can do to keep yourself and all other road users safe while driving.”
As part of the campaign, over the next two weeks, officers from the Force’s Roads Policing Team will be undertaking voluntary roadside vision screenings at various locations across the county.
Results from the roadside vision screening activity will be released in the Spring along with a wide-ranging public information campaign highlighting the importance of clear vision for safe driving.
Anyone who would like to know more about the legal eyesight standards for motorists or has a question about vision and driving is invited to attend an Is Your Vision Roadworthy? webinar at 2pm on Tuesday, March 14. To register for this free event, which is hosted by TV and radio presenter Valerie Singleton OBE, visit VisionAndDriving.info.
Association of Optometrists, BRAKE, Central Optical Fund, College of Optometrists, DVLA, Driving Mobility, Eye Health UK, Federation of Ophthalmic & Dispensing Opticians, GEM Motoring Assist, IAM Road Smart, National Highways, NPCC, Older Drivers Forum, RAC Foundation, Road Safety GB, THINK! (Covering DfT).
 Officers can request an urgent revocation of a licence through the DVLA if they believe the safety of other road users will be put at risk if a driver remains on the road. The power was introduced in 2013 under Cassie’s Law, named after 16-year-old Cassie McCord, who died when an 87-year-old man lost control of his vehicle in Colchester, Essex. It later emerged he had failed a police eyesight test days earlier, but a legal loophole meant he was allowed to continue driving.