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Road Safety and Vision Standards

Eye tests could cut road accidents says HSA and the Institute of Advanced Motorists

Regular eyesight tests could cut hundreds of road accidents, says HSA and the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) (1). Also drivers who have glasses or contact lenses must wear them say the two organisations and these messages apply to both private drivers and those who drive with their job.

Millions of UK drivers continue to break the law, putting themselves and others at risk because their eyesight is below the safe minimum standard. Last year HSA and the IAM launched an awareness campaign to highlight the importance of regular eye tests for drivers, as 1 in 10 would actually fail a driving test if they re-took it today because of poor eyesight (2).

Officially drivers should be able to read a number plate from 20.5 metres (67 feet) or 25 metres (82 feet) for the new style font introduced in September 2001. For information this is approximately the length of two standard buses. Anyone in doubt is encouraged to try this simple test.

Plus, everyday thousands of motorists, who know they should wear glasses, drive without them, either because of vanity, or they've forgotten them or because they are only driving a short distance.

More than 50% of the UK population wear glasses or contact lenses and this statistic rises dramatically to 80% once we hit 45 (2). The average cost of a sight test is only £19 and the average price of a pair of glasses is approximately £105 (3). However, these costs could be proving a deterrent according to independent research commissioned by HSA (20% of people are deterred from seeking simple healthcare checks including visits to the optician).

"We started this campaign last year when it became clear that something as simple as an eye test could have such a significant impact on road safety. At this time of the year, driving conditions are particularly difficult with shorter, darker days, fog, rain, sleet, snow and salted roads. Not being able to see properly is just plain foolish," said Des Benjamin, HSA's chief executive.

HSA and the IAM have 6 simple suggestions for drivers:

1. Get your eyesight checked regularly.
2. Wear your glasses or contact lenses on EVERY journey, no matter how short.
3. Keep your windscreens, inside and out, and car lights clean. 
4. Check your screen washers work, the washer bottle is full (with an anti freezing additive) and the windscreen wipers are in good condition and work effectively.
5. When possible, if you wear glasses, keep a spare pair in the car.
6. Check that you can you still read a number plate at 20.5 metres.

"Our joint message with HSA is a very serious one. It is not only very dangerous to drive if you cannot see properly but you are also breaking the law. The IAM strongly recommends that all drivers get their eyes checked regularly," concludes their Chief Examiner Bryan Lunn.

With its cash benefit schemes HSA provides help towards the cost of everyday healthcare including optical charges. This includes sight tests, glasses and contact lenses (plus other benefits such as dental, osteopathy, consultation, chiropody, hospital in-patient to name but a few). HSA can be contacted on 0800 08 54321. For advice on any aspect of better driving or riding, contact the IAM on 0208 994 4403 or on http://www.iamorg.uk.

Notes to Editors

(1)The IAM was formed as a wholly independent, non profit-making organisation with the stated aims of improving driving standards, promoting road safety and establishing an Advanced Driving Test.

(2) Eye Care Information Service.

(3) Federation of Dispensing Opticians.

Distributed by PR Newswire on behalf of HSA / Institute of Advanced Motorists


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