Almost 6,000 drivers have licences torn up because they cannot SEE the road properlyNumber of motorists banned from driving for poor eyesight jumps 10 per cent in a yearLabour MP Meg Munn calls for 'robust measures' to ensure road safety
In 2010 poor eyesight caused 2,874 road accident causalities

Matt Chorley, Mailonline Political Editor


10:53 GMT, 29 December 2012



10:53 GMT, 29 December 2012

Almost 6,000 drivers have been banned from the road because they cannot see properly, new figures show.

The number of licences revoked or blocked soared by 10 per cent higher in 2011, amid growing fears about the eyesight of thousands of people who climb behind the wheel.

Officials tore up 5,285 licences for cars and motorbikes and 685 lorry and bus drivers last year because holders could not pass a standard eye test.

In 2011 almost 6,000 people had their driving licences revoked or blocked because of their eyesight, a 10 per cent rise on 2010

In 2011 almost 6,000 people had their driving licences revoked or blocked because of their eyesight, a 10 per cent rise on 2010

In 2010, 4,906 car and motorcycle licences were revoked or refused, along with 493 lorry or bus applications.

Among lorry and bus drivers the increase was a shocking 39 per cent.

Transport minister Stephen Hammond revealed the figures for 2011 in response to a series of parliamentary questions from Labour MP Meg Munn.

Mr Hammond told MailOnline: 'Licensing rules have an important part to play in keeping our roads safe. We must make sure that only those who are safe to drive are allowed on our roads while at the same time avoiding placing unnecessary restrictions on people’s independence.

All drivers must meet certain minimum eyesight standards. There are additional checks for drivers of large goods vehicles and passenger carrying vehicles, which we strictly enforce.

'This is to protect the driver and other road users given their size, the number of passengers and the likely additional distance and time spent on the road.'

Driving with defective eyesight is an offence and a driver who does not meet the required standard could be prosecuted. They may also invalidate their motor insurance.

Ms Munn said: 'A recent report showed that in 2010 road accidents caused by poor driver vision resulted in an estimated 2,874 casualties.

'These figures provide information on how many drivers who have come forward and reported problems with their vision to the DVLA had their licenses revoked or refused.

'I will be continuing to seek further information to ensure that robust measures are in place to check drivers’ vision, so we can continue to improve road safety. For most people it is simply a matter of getting their eyes tested to ensure they have glasses or contact lenses if required.'

Under Department for Transport rules, all drivers should be able to read a number plate from 20 metres away, with glasses or contact lenses if necessary. They should also be able to pass an eye test with an optician and have an adequate field of vision.

The government has ruled out introducing formal eyesight testing whenever a driving licence is renewed. Instead, it is up to drivers to ensure that they are able to meet the appropriate vision standards while driving.

Police officers are able to carry out roadside eye tests if they think a driver does not meet the minimum requirements. If the driver fails the roadside test, the police can inform the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency who will revoke the driving licence.

Last month a survey by Specsavers found one in three drivers were putting themselves and others at risk by failing to meet the legal vision standard required for driving.

Labour MP Meg Munn said she was worried about road safety

Labour MP Meg Munn said she was worried about road safety

Experts predict the number of older drivers will soar to record levels as the post-war 'baby-boom' generation reaches retirement.

By 2032 the number aged over 70 will have risen to 5.8million, and the total will include almost two million over 80, the Institute of Advanced Motorists said.

Earlier this month 87-year-old Peter Cole was released from jail on appeal, after pleading guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and making a false statement to obtain a driving license after twice lying to the DVLA about his eyesight.

Cole of Abridge Homes, Abridge in Essex, ran over and killed war veteran Ambrose Skingle, 86, in January. Cole was jailed for 18 months, but the Court of Appeal said it was ‘wrong in principle’ for the frail pensioner to remain behind bars.

The court heard how after the accident Cole was seen using a magnifying glass to use his mobile phone even whilst wearing glasses.

It was later found that he could only read a number plate from just eight metres.

On appeal Cole’s jail term was quashed and he was handed a 51 week suspended sentence, with a 12-month supervision requirement.

Two years ago Raymond Hampshire, 87, escaped serious punishment after fatally injuring a disabled woman while she was riding a mobility scooter. Sheffield Crown court heard he had cataracts in both eyes and was unfit to be on the road because everything appeared ‘foggy’ to him.