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Bob Russell Calls on Drivers to Have Regular Tests

Sir Bob Russell MP calls on Drivers to take regular eye tests

November 2013

On Wednesday 20 November Sir Bob Russell MP attended an RSA Insurance Group's 'Fit to Drive' road safety and eye health drop-in eye test event in Parliament. Supported by road safety charity Brake and the Optical Confederation and held during National Road Safety Week, the event saw MPs from all political parties tested to see whether they meet the UK's minimum eye health standards.

Research shows that poor vision results in nearly 3,000 casualties in the UK each year. In addition to injury and loss of life, road crashes are costly for individuals, their families and the wider economy. The total cost of crashes due to poor driver vision is estimated to be £33m a year.

RSA and the Optical Confederation have published a new report, Healthy Eyes, Safer Roads, which shows how regular eye testing can keep all road users safer and sets out recommendations for policymakers to ensure more tests take place. Drivers who fall below the minimum standards are 15 per cent more likely to crash their vehicle - although in many cases they are unaware of their poor or deteriorating eye health.

During the event Sir Bob Russell MP found out more about how this issue affects Colchester and had her eyes tested by a qualified Specsavers optometrist. Bob also signed the Fit to Drive pledge - committing to having their eyes checked every two years, wearing glasses or lenses to drive if they need them and encouraging others to do the same.

Bob Russell MP said: "Drivers must take their responsibilities toward their own and other people's safety extremely seriously. Part of this is to make sure their eyesight meets the standards required and that they wear their glasses or lenses every time they drive if they need them. Thousands of crashes happen every year because of poor vision, at great cost to those involved and to the economy as a whole. I am glad to say that I'm fit to drive but it is vital everyone gets their eyes tested regularly to make sure they are safe too."

Adrian Brown, CEO of RSA UK & Western Europe, said: "Regular testing helps maintain good eyesight and that means fewer crashes and safer roads. It's good to see local MPs getting this message out to their constituents and our 'Fit to Drive' campaign report sets out ways policymakers can make sure more eye tests happen. We also want existing EU rules on driver eyesight to be properly implemented in the UK. We're currently lagging behind many other countries and that means our roads aren't as safe as they could be."

Mark Nevin on behalf of the OC said:† "Sight loss and road crashes are two major and interlinked public health challenges. Both are also largely avoidable and an excellent first step to addressing them is to encourage regular sight tests for all drivers. We urge local authorities, the public health community and local eye health networks to work together to relay this message to drivers and the general public."

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