Fit to drive: benefit analysis of more frequent eyesight testing for UK drivers

Organisation: RSA
Date uploaded: 20th November 2012
Date published/launched: November 2012

Despite a European Commission (EC) Directive for minimum eyesight standards for car and motorcycle licence holders, the United Kingdom (UK) requires only that drivers self-report being able to read a standard number plate from a distance of 20 metres on applying for their first licence (this is formally tested at the driving examination) or renewing their licence after the age of 70 years. This is despite evidence demonstrating that drivers with poor vision are at an increased risk of involvement in road accidents.

RSA is seeking a change in UK law requiring everyone applying for a first or renewed Category A (motorcycle) or B (car) licence to have had an eyesight test in the previous two years demonstrating that their vision meets the standard in the EC Directive. RSA also recommends drivers voluntarily have their eyesight tested more regularly to ensure their vision is up to standard. This campaign is in line with National Health Service (NHS) guidelines that people have their sight examined every two years.

This report evaluates the cost of road accidents due to poor vision in the UK, and the potential benefits from RSA’s proposed policy change and campaign. RSA conducted a cost benefit analyses for: an amendment to the driving licence process requiring all applicants to have passed an eyesight test in the previous two years to demonstrate meeting the EC Directive standards; and a campaign to encourage UK drivers to voluntarily have their eyesight tested every two years. The cost of each intervention included additional eyesight tests and spectacles due to the intervention. The benefits included the cost savings from fewer road accidents due to poor vision.

For more information contact:
Mario Seisdedos

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