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September 3, 2008

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Tighter legislation on drivers’ eyesight

New EU driving licences that carry drivers’ vision-correction details, plus compulsory eye tests, are expected to significantly reduce the number of road accidents, conference delegates have heard.

The new single European driving licence will replace the many national licences currently in use in the EU and Switzerland, and will be introduced in member states from January 2011.

Delegates at a seminar, hosted by the Federation of Manufacturing Opticians, were told the new legislation should help bring earlier detection of cataracts, glaucoma, and other eye diseases. Drivers must have their eyes examined every five years to renew their commercial licence, and every 10 or 15 years for a new private licence. Shorter periods between sight tests will be able to be applied for new drivers, those over 50, and those with specific medical conditions.

Mark Raines, director of corporate development at Specsavers opticians, welcomed the initiative. He said: “Currently, the only eyesight requirement of drivers is that they can clearly see a number-plate at 20 metres — and this was passed in the 1930s. However, driving today requires good peripheral vision and the ability to refocus between different distances.”

He added that any directive that ensures a driver’s eyesight is good enough for driving is “excellent news”.

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