South East Wales

Bad eyesight: Instant ban threat to south Wales drivers

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Media captionMotorists around Pontypridd got the first taste of what this could mean across Wales

Motorists in south Wales could lose their licences immediately if their eyesight is found to be too poor, as police introduce random checks.

Drivers in Talbot Green, Cardiff, Aberdare and Rhondda will be asked to read the registration plate of a vehicle parked 20m (65ft) away.

New technology set up by the DVLA and police means a licence can be revoked in hours, whereas it used to take days.

Police say motorists with bad eyesight are just as dangerous as drink-drivers.

Police will stop drivers over the next four weeks to check they can drive safely.

They also want to raise awareness about the new technology which speeds up the time it takes to revoke a licence.

Officers now use hand-held devices to report offending drivers, and a quick email response from the DVLA means a licence can be revoked on the same day somebody is caught.

Police previously had to write or fax a request for licence removal, which would take a number of days.

The changes follow a campaign to highlight the issue after 16-year-old Cassie McCord, from Colchester, Essex, was killed by an 87-year-old driver in 2011.

He had refused to surrender his licence despite failing an on-the-spot eye sight test three days earlier.

Image caption Cassie McCord was killed by an elderly motorist who had refused to hand police his licence

Supt Steve Furnham, of South Wales Police, said officers would not hesitate to take away somebody's driving licence if they presented "a serious and immediate risk to themselves and other road users".

"Any vehicle in the hands of somebody who doesn't have full control of it is a lethal weapon," he said.

"Hopefully the threat of losing their driving licence there and then will help reduce the number of people who choose to shrug off problems with their eyesight, or their responsibility to wear appropriate eyewear before they get behind the wheel."

According to the Department for Transport, only 10% of drivers over the age of 50 have regular eyesight tests.

A DVLA spokesperson said: "The DVLA works closely with the police and the new streamlined process for revoking a licence means that any driver who fails to meet the necessary standard may have their licence revoked in a matter of hours rather than days."

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