Drivers On The Spot Eyesight Screening


Drivers who can’t read a car number plate at 20m will have their licence suspended in a crackdown by police

UK police forces are kicking off a crackdown on drivers without sufficiently good eyesight. Thames Valley, Hampshire and West Midlands police will conduct regular on-the-spot eye tests at the roadside on drivers they pull over. Anyone who can’t read a car number plate at a distance of 20m faces having their driving licence revoked. 

Currently, the only mandatory test of a driver’s eyesight is done before the practical driving test. From that point it is the responsibility of the driver to ensure that their vision is up to the required standard before getting behind the wheel. Licence holders are required to inform the DVLA if they have vision problems that may affect their driving.

Police have the power to contact the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) and request an urgent revocation of a licence for reasons of poor eyesight under a 2013 law dubbed Cassie’s law. The legislation was named after 16-year-old Cassie McCord who died when an 87-year-old driver, who had previously failed a police eyesight test, lost control of his vehicle in Colchester, Essex.

Police say that they will use the data collected under the new eyesight test scheme to gain a clearer picture of the extent of the problem of drivers on the road with defective vision. Speaking to the BBC on behalf of the three forces involved, Sgt Rob Heard said “Not being able to see a hazard or react to a situation quickly enough can have catastrophic consequences.”

Current eyesight regulations for drivers

The eyesight test was introduced in 1937 and has been amended occasionally to reflect changing number plate sizes. Immediately before the driving test, the examiner asks the candidate to read a new-style number plate (beginning with two letters) on a parked vehicle 65 feet (20 metres) away, or an old-style plate at 67 feet. If that can’t be read, then the candidate is asked to read a second one. If they can’t read that, the examiner measures the distance to a third plate, and if that can’t be read, the driving test is cancelled, the DVLA is informed and the candidate’s licence is revoked. 

When they first apply for a licence, and when they renew at 70, drivers must declare that they meet the minimum eyesight standard for driving, and whether they need corrective lenses to drive. They don’t have to confirm whether lenses are worn at each 10-year renewal. The law also requires all licence holders to inform the DVLA about any medical condition they have that may affect their ability to drive – including poor eyesight.

Source: Auto Express

Speed has ‘direct influence on crash occurrence and severity’




Governments need to take actions that will reduce the speed on roads – as well as speed differences between vehicles sharing the same road, a new report has found.

The International Transport Forum* (ITF) report, titled ‘Speed and Crash Risk’, concludes that with higher driving speeds the number of crashes – and the crash severity – ‘increase disproportionally’.

The report points to research which suggests that the risk of death is about 4-5 times higher in a collision between a car and a pedestrian at 50kmh – compared to the same type of collision at 30kmh.

The report recommends that where motorised vehicles and vulnerable road users share the same space, such as in residential areas, 30kmh (20mph) is the recommended maximum speed.

It also suggests stricter enforcement or an upgrade of the infrastructure is needed to compensate for the increased risk related to higher speeds.

The report has been welcomed by the campaign group 20’s Plenty for Us.

Rod King MBE, founder and campaign director, said: “This is yet another report coming to the firm conclusion that 20 is plenty where people live, work, play, shop and learn.

“Other countries have adopted a near universal 30km/h limit for urban and residential streets.

“Over 25% of the UK live in authorities who have also set 20mph as the right urban limit. The Scottish Parliament is considering a bill to make 20mph the limit (with exceptions) for built up roads.

“It’s time to end the postcode lottery on pedestrian/cycling safety and general well-being in our residential and urban places by setting a 20mph default limit for built-up roads across the UK.”

*The ITF is an intergovernmental organisation with 59 member countries. It acts as a think tank for transport policy and organises an annual summit of transport ministers.



Garry Handley OBE Retires After 43 Years in Road Safety


Garry Handley, road safety delivery manager for Gloucestershire County Council, is to retire at the end of this month.

Garry says his interest in road safety began when he carried out a study into vehicle safety features while still a pupil at school – which means his actual engagement with road safety has lasted for almost half a century.

Garry’s professional career started at Berkshire County Council, working in traffic management and collision investigation.

Working in schools teaching children to be safe – and demonstrating to them that safety lessons can be enjoyable – was the theme for the first few years of his work, which Garry describes as “some of most enjoyable of my career”.

Garry then moved to Hampshire for a couple of years, taking on a role funded by the county council but based in a district council office. The satisfaction of being “semi-independent and largely my own boss” was a great motivating factor for Garry, and taught him “valuable lessons about self-motivation, politics, priorities and resilience”.

Garry finally settled in Gloucestershire, where over the last 35 years he has overseen a significant reduction in road casualties – with annual KSI figures falling by around 1,000 over that period.

Garry says: “These years have been filled with enjoyment and rewards.

“Firstly, road casualties have significantly fallen over the years and this positive outcome is precisely why I dedicated my working life to improving road safety.

“I’m very proud of some of the initiatives we’ve developed including the Safer Driving with Age Scheme (SAGE), offender re-education programmes which preceded NDORS, and many more initiatives involving community groups and others to help influence and reinforce safe behaviour on the roads.”

Sharing best practice, nationally and internationally, has given Garry the chance to put Gloucestershire on the road safety map.

He was involved in a global driver training conference and has connected through TISPOL with many EU police and road safety colleagues, and has supported road safety in Japan, Australia and Poland, and also with most road safety organisations in the UK

While recognition for efforts was never a feature on Garry’s agenda, involvement in several Prince Michael Road Safety Awards and other national prizes and awards culminated in him being appointed as an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) by her Majesty the Queen in 2010, for his outstanding contribution to road safety.


Speed cameras reduce collisions and deaths


Photo: Albert Bridge – licensed for reuse under the Creative Commons Licence.

Deploying an additional 1,000 speed cameras on British roads could save up to 190 lives each year, a study has concluded.

The London School of Economics research, published in October 2017, analysed collision outcomes before and after speed cameras were installed at 2,500 sites in England, Scotland and Wales.

The analysis found that from 1992 to 2016, the number of ‘accidents’ fell by between 17% and 39% – and fatalities by between 58% and 68% – within 500 metres of speed cameras.

In addition to the reduction in fatalities, lead researcher Cheng Keat Tang says that adding another 1,000 cameras would produce annual savings of up to 1,130 collisions and 330 serious injuries.

However, the report points out that the benefits of speed cameras are ‘highly localised’ and dissipate over distance – with a slight increase in collisions observed at distances beyond 1.5kms from the camera sites.

The report says this could be due to a ‘kangaroo’ effect as drivers ‘brake suddenly before the camera to avoid fines’ and ‘speed up beyond camera surveillance’.

Cheng Keat Tang said: “Although the study found a slight increase in accidents away from the camera, the overall reduction in road accidents and deaths around the camera more than makes up for this increase.

“Given the huge number of fatal accidents that take place on our roads every year, the introduction of more cameras could save hundreds of lives annually and make our roads safer for users.”


Police Embark On Week-long Mobile Phone Crackdown


Police forces across England and Wales are redoubling their efforts to catch drivers using mobile phones under a week-long campaign from today.

Co-ordinated by the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC), the campaign will see officers running targeted patrols with marked and unmarked vehicles and using high vantage points and helmet cams to catch offenders.

A similar operation in July 2017 saw more than 8,000 drivers stopped and 2,595 offences detected.

In March 2017, the penalties for drivers using a mobile handset doubled to a £200 fine and six penalty points, with RAC research indicating that around 11% fewer drivers were stopped in the three months post-legislation than in the preceding three months.

National Police Chiefs council lead for roads policing, chief constable Anthony Bangham said: If you glance at a phone for even 2.3 seconds while driving at 30mph you miss 100ft of road. That is the equivalent to the length of Boeing 737.

The news of this week crackdown was welcomed by Brake but the organisation said that a more concerted and long-term police enforcement effort was needed to ensure offenders are caught.

Brake also called for the Government to legislate against hands-free phone use while driving.

Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake, commented: Shockingly, research has shown that hands-free calls cause almost the same level of risk whilst driving as hand-held “ last year a driver using a hands-free device was found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving. Brake urges government to regulate against hands-free phone use at the wheel, ridding our roads of the menace of distracted driving.

Source: embark on week-long mobile phone crackdown


First MOT test to remain at 3 years to protect road safety


Ministers put road safety first as they today (18 January 2018) decided to maintain the period before a cars first MOT test at 3 years.

The move comes after a Department for Transport consultation last year to consider changing the wait before the first test to 4 years.

Most of those responding to the consultation were against the proposals on safety grounds, arguing that the savings to motorists were outweighed by the risk to road users and the test often highlights upcoming issues affecting the vehicle. A public survey for DfT by Populus also showed fewer than half of people were in favour of the change.

Roads Minister Jesse Norman said:

“We have some of the safest roads in the world, and are always looking at ways of making them safer.

Although modern cars are better built and safer than when the MOT test was last changed 50 years ago, there has been a clear public concern that any further changes don’t put people’s lives at risk.

We are looking at further research to ensure the MOT test evolves with the demands of modern motoring.”

By law, all vehicles must be roadworthy, regardless of whether they have passed an MOT, and the content of the tests will not be changed.

The test was introduced in 1960, requiring vehicles to undergo a first check after 10 years. It was changed in 1967 to 3 years.

In 2016 (the most recent figures available), more than 2.4 million cars had their first MOT test, which costs owners a maximum of £54.85. The pass rate was about 85% and the most common reasons for failure include lighting, tyres and braking faults.

Changing the time period until the first test would have saved motorists more than £100 million a year.

Source: and

Drivers to face fines for ignoring red ‘X’ signs


Highways England has stated that motorists are likely to start picking up fines for ignoring lane closures on smart motorways from spring 2018 (RAC).

In a document seen by the Press Association, and reported on the RAC newsfeed, Highways England reveals it is testing roadside cameras which detect drivers who flout the instructions given by red X signs on overhead gantries.

Highways England expects to be able to legally enforce the practice within the next three months, with the RAC anticipating a similar penalty to that handed out for running a red light £100 and three penalty points.

According to the RAC news report, Highways England has sent out around 80,000 letters of warning to motorists who have broken smart motorway rules since December 2016. At least a third of these relate to driving in closed lanes.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, has warned the extra capacity is welcome move, only so long as it can be delivered safely.

He said: We need to see a redoubling of communications by Highways England to leave no doubt in motorists minds as to what a red X sign means.

A Highways England spokesman said: Safety is at the heart of everything we do and our roads are among the safest in the world. We close lanes for a reason and drivers ignoring red Xs puts them and others at risk.

Since we started issuing warning letters we have seen a decrease in the number of drivers ignoring lane closures.

Source: Road Safety GB

Sentences For Killer Drivers


Ministers confirm plans to introduce tougher sentences for those who drive irresponsibly and devastate lives.

Texting and Walking

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M3 gets first ‘Orange’ smart motorway emergency area


Friday 14th July 2017

Highways England is trialling a new style of smart motorway emergency area on the M3 in Surrey.

The redesigned emergency area has a ‘highly visible’ orange road surface, as well as better signposting, in an effort to make it ‘more obvious’ to drivers.

Highways England also hopes the new design will encourage drivers to only use the areas in emergency situations.

Smart motorways use variable speed limits to manage traffic and tackle frustrating stop-start congestion. The hard shoulder is also turned into an extra traffic lane, with technology deployed to give drivers better information on road conditions ahead.

However, the smart motorway concept has not been an unqualified success, with a survey published in May suggesting that 52% of motorists are not familiar with emergency refuge areas (ERAs).

The RAC survey also suggests there is considerable confusion about how to use ERAs, with two-thirds of respondents neither knowing what to do after stopping (64%), nor how to re-join the motorway (65%).

The first of the new emergency areas went live on the M3 near Camberley on 14th July and is part of an ongoing review looking at the design and spacing of emergency areas on smart motorways.

Jim O’Sullivan, Highways England chief executive, said: We know that smart motorways are safe. But we also recognise that drivers need to have confidence when using them and be clear about where they can stop in an emergency.

That is why we are trialling these highly visible new style emergency areas. The bright orange colouring will make them as easy as possible to spot and should also discourage drivers from using them in non-emergency situations.

This is just one of the ways we are helping drivers to understand smart motorways and their benefits. I hope it helps drivers feel more confident about using a smart motoerway

Chris Grayling, transport secretary, said: Smart motorways are adding extra lanes to our busiest motorways and – as recent evidence shows – reducing the rate of crashes.

We are making emergency refuge areas more visible to ensure motorists in trouble can easily identify where to stop safely.