Foss in charge of another clusterwhatsit


The Ministry of Transport has proposed a one-off vision test for drivers when they first apply. For renewals, people would simply have to declare they can see properly.

I beg your pardon?

Eyesight testing for licence renewals has been controversial. The majority of people who fail the tests are later told by their optometrists that their vision is fine for driving.

Studies done for the ministry have found there are few safety benefits from frequent eye tests, and a discussion paper said the changes could save up to $13.7 million over the next two decades, mainly through cutting time spent travelling to licensing agents.

The studies found people who failed vision tests and were forced to wear glasses were no safer on the roads than before they failed. People with undiagnosed eyesight problems were at no more risk of crashing.

“The studies, which suggest there is no discernible road safety benefit from the current frequency of vision testing, are one input into the decision-making process,” ministry communications team leader Lesley Reidy said.

However, optometrist Jack Crawford questioned those studies, and said vision safety should not be sacrificed for a more convenient system, “especially when the science behind it isn’t that strong”.

Younger people could face rapid deterioration in their eyesight from shortsightedness, and older people from cataracts.

“Everybody gets cataracts over the age of 60 to one extent or another, and that can make your eyes change quite unpredictably, and often quite quickly.”

An unexpected effect of mandatory testing was that it revealed previously undetected eye problems, such as glaucoma, “that could well have blinded” people.

“I know that wasn’t the intention of the screening system, but it has been of benefit to many people.”

He feared online declarations could be undermined by a lack of “integrity, or self-awareness”.

Reidy said that, if people made a false declaration under the Crimes Act, they could face up to three years in prison.

That will be a safe place to hide while the families of the kids you ran over are trying to kill you.

The optometry and ophthalmology medical professions can work out where Foss is going with this.

Just as everyone thinks they are an above average driver, everyone thinks their eyesight is mint until it isn’t, and they hit a parked car.   Or worse.

– Stuff


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  • Evan

    Having recently renewed my Drivers license the eye test would only pick up someone who is almost legally blind anyway! The test has been gradually reduced to the bare minimum needed to check if you can actually see or not. My wife has good vision but has an issue with the three strips of letters on the test where she can’t see the middle strip, it doesn’t mean she can’t see and apparently this is common & doesn’t indicate any defect or lack of vision but requires an eye exam, as a formality, to get the license.

  • Jude

    Doing away with the eye test is a mistake.
    Online renewal of a licence has the capacity to enter a code given by either a GP or optometrist, who have tested vision.

  • gander

    We go from vision screening by unqualified persons (e.g. AA counter staff) using inappropriate instruments, to no screening at all. This is progress?

  • biscuit barrel

    I notice at traffic lights, when the light goes green many drivers at the front of the queue seem to hesitate and wait for another car move first,its like they dont have good enough vision to see the red change to green.
    The ‘savings’ listed in the article , “over next two decades” are just nonsense, that would be wiped out by just a few accidents caused by poor eyesight.

    The records of accidents arent detailed enough to show ‘eyesight’ as a factor’ even when they say ‘didnt see them’. Its easy to put it down as inattention, speeding etc as its just a box to tick. Its not like alcohol which can be tested on the spot, eyesight is never tested unless the driver is 80 or so.

    • OneTrack

      Ah, no. The delay in people starting off once the lights go green is because they are looking left and right to check nobody is running their red light.

      • XCIA

        Or, if its around 05:00hrs, they are drinking coffee, eating cereal, shaving or putting on make up etc., etc.

  • Usaywot

    I have a friend with severe macular degeneration to the point that she has to be right up close to me to recognise me. She is still driving. She is in her 70s so I would have thought would have to undergo eye tests to keep her licence. It appalls me that she is on the road. She is an accident waiting to happen and I hope to heaven she doesn’t take out innocent people.

    • Usaywot

      Also, all her friends, including me, have pleaded with her to stop driving but she won’t.