A little known change to the requirements for a driving license came into being on May 1st last year. Group 1 (cars and motorcycles): applicants and licence holders, will need to have a visual acuity of 6/12 (0.5 decimal) as well as being able to read the number plate from the prescribed distance. Visual field: the present standard of a total visual field width of 120 degrees remains but in addition, there will need to be a field of at least 50 degrees on each side. Previously all that was considered was whether an applicant could read a number plate at 25 yards later changed to 20M.
The visual acuity requirement was long sought by eyecare professionals. The visual field minimum is also relatively recent. All this is welcome. However a new power given to police officers for instant revocation of a driver`s license is worth some attention. It allows an officer to make a judgement on the street that might be difficult for somebody specialising in ocular related problems. I foresee problems with this new power being used erroneously and/or unnecessarily.
Fitness to Drive Standards chapter 5 DRUG AND ALCOHOL MISUSE AND DEPENDENCE appear to me to be far more relevant to ensuring that only those capable of being in control of a vehicle are actually legally allowed to drive. I wonder just how many alcoholics or those as defined in the above chapter have been notified by their G.P.s to DVLA. Over 1000 offenders/week are convicted of drink driving and disqualified. Just how many more should have their license to drive revoked if medical practitioners informed DVLA of all their patients they know fall into the categories defined in that DVLA Fitness to Drive Standards document?