noticed that there seems to be a disaster of epic proportions on the horizon. A blood
bath of unbelievable scale. A death toll on our roads that dwarfs everything else.
Drivers not taking eye tests.
There is a major campaign underway to force drivers to take eye tests and even a lot of
comments about driving tests or licenses only lasting a few years.
Now speaking as a cyclist I see more than my fair share of idiots behind the wheel of
cars but I’m fairly sure that all those people who speed past me inches from my legs or
handle bars at the maximum speed limit didn’t do it because they forgot to wear their
glasses or had been more than two years since their last eye test.
Yet ever news channel is full of reports about this epidemic of crashes and deaths due
to poor eyesight. Apparently MPs and eye test companies are fully supporting this and
no doubt we can expect a cabinet minister to be making a statement about how
important this matter is shortly. The DVLA is going to start a no doubt costly campaign
to warn people of the dangers.
Figures released include that out of a 1000 person test group 26% had not had an eye test
for two years. Oddly no mention was made in the survey of how many of those 260 people
had eye sight problems.
Still I expect a major drive by the government to make people retake eye tests or renew
driving licenses every two or three years.
Anyway a few minutes of that old fashioned journalistic thing called investigation led me to
some numbers. Those of you who are old enough may remember the era of the investigative
journalist or reporter, back in the old days when the press actually bothered to research
stories before they published them rather than the modern trend of publishing any
unsubstantiated rubbish that makes for a good headline.
The governments own figures from 2011/2012:
Contain a breakdown of the causes of accidents. If you are confused by the fact that the causes
are more than 100% this is because many accidents have multiple causes and they have factored
every individual cause as a percentage.
Under Impairment or distraction the section “Uncorrected, defective eyesight” is attributed as the
main cause for accidents in 0% of all acident cases. A total of 250 cases out of 118,403 covered in
Let us compare this with 5,384 cases where the driver was impaired by alcohol. Twenty one times
as many accidents. How about Drugs, 644 cases or driver fatigue 1784 cases.
22 people were killed on our roads due to using a mobile while driving, 7 cyclists died due to wearing
dark clothing at night, 9 died due to poor eyesight, 156 due to alcohol, 49 due to drugs etc etc. Hell in
this year 7 people were killed by emergency vehicles responding to an emergency.
So why the drive to force eye tests, why all the news stories, why the sudden interest in this very
minor cause of accidents.
I see a lot of similarities here with our PMs drive recently to control the Internet. A sudden burst
of news stories. Complete disregard of facts or experts. The poor grieving families of someone
killed due to poor eyesight paraded before the cameras to add gravitas to the situation.
I am waiting for the Government to start with the same “We must do it for the victims, the children
run down by half blind drivers” rhetoric that we saw so much of with the Internet censorship campaign.
Want to cut down on accidents, want to save people’s lives then look at the real major causes of
accidents and road deaths. Making people take two yearly eye tests only works if they are then
submitting those tests to the DVLA. Given that the DVLA takes weeks to process regular requests
I doubt they will be able to handle the massively increased workload of having to reprocess
every single UK driver’s eye test and license every two years. All this will do is create a huge logistic
bottleneck and increase the departmental costs of the DVLA and related parts of the Government.
Yet another poorly thought out smoke screen from our Government. Do they have nothing better
to do than waste their time and ours with this stuff?
Oh right. Silly question. Sorry.