Good eyesight is essential if you are to drive safely – it’s a bit of a no-brainer, right? Wrong! It is estimated that road crashes involving a driver with poor vision are estimated to cause 2,900 casualties and cost £33 million in the UK per year (RSA Insurance Group plc, overview available on the Road Safety Observatory, 2012).
It was one such accident that killed Poppy-Arabella Clarke in July 2016. The 3-year-old girl was mowed down by John Place whilst she was on her way to nursery. The pensioner was completely oblivious to what he had done, until another motorist who witnessed the accident stopped him.
Sadly, this tragic accident was completely preventable. The police investigation revealed that Mr Place was not wearing spectacles. He had also been told his eyesight was unfit for driving weeks before the accident, even when he was wearing spectacles. Despite understanding clearly what he was told, Mr Place chose to ignore the advice of two separate optometrists.
The pensioner was jailed at the end of last month, for four years at Birmingham Crown Court, after admitting causing death by dangerous driving and causing serious injury by dangerous driving.
Poppy Arabella’s parents are now calling for a change in the law “requiring medical professionals to report people who are unfit to drive to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency” (AOP, 2017), so their licence can be revoked.
In 2011 16-year-old Cassie McCord, died from fatal head injuries after being struck by a car. It was discovered the driver, an 87 year old pensioner had failed a police eyesight test just days before the accident, and was advised by police not to drive. However, a legal loophole enabled him to continue to drive and police had no power to immediately revoke his licence.
Following her daughter’s death, Jackie Rason, fought for a change in the law. Subsequently Cassie’s law was introduced which empowers the DVLA to revoke licences much quicker. Also when the police “believe that the safety of other road users would be put at risk if a driver with insufficient eye sight remains on the road, they can ask for the licence to be urgently revoked. (McCormick, 2015). If a banned driver then continues to drive, they are committing a crime, which may lead to them being arrested or having their vehicle seized. Since the introduction of the new powers in 2013, 609 licences have been revoked (McCormick, 2015).
Dr Brendan McCreesh, Optometrist at McBride and McCreesh Opticians, hopes that both tragedies will send out a clear message to drivers “that you and you alone, have a personal responsibility to other road users to listen and act on both medical and police advice, and to ensure that you are fit to be behind the wheel of a vehicle.”
Visit McBride and McCreesh Opticians for further information on vision and driving, including the best type of lenses, frames and sunglasses for driving. Book on 028 66322524.
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