Drivers over 70 could face compulsory eyesight tests

A woman behind the steering wheel of a car Image copyright Getty Images

Drivers could face compulsory eye tests once they turn 70 under new plans being considered by the government.

The Department for Transport (DfT) is researching whether mandatory checks could make Britain's roads safer.

One proposal would involve drivers over 70 undergoing an eye test every three years to keep their licence.

The DfT wants to "find out more" about whether this could reduce road deaths before deciding whether to introduce the policy.

The research comes after the DfT proposed a ban on new drivers travelling at night and said drivers not wearing a seat belt could be given points on their licence.

As part of the practical driving exam, learner drivers must pass a sight test where they show they are able to read a number plate from 20m (65ft) away.

After they pass, they are legally obliged to ensure their sight remains good enough to drive.

Motorists risk prosecution if they need to wear glasses or contact lenses for driving and get behind the wheel without them.

Last year, 4,603 drivers over 70 had their licences revoked because of their eyesight, the DfT said.

In the past five years, 37 people have been killed and almost 1,100 people injured in crashes where uncorrected or defective eyesight was a contributing factor.

"The UK has some of the safest roads in the world but we are always looking at ways to make them safer," the DfT said.

"As part of this, we want to find out more about how eyesight testing could play a role in reducing the number of fatalities on our roads."

A full public consultation would be held before any decision on eye testing is made, it said.

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