Peripheral vision is a critical factor in a driver’s ability to judge the full extent of their surroundings, including hazards. Yet it is effectively neglected in the UK’s antiquated driving test.

It’s mentioned as ‘field of vision’ on the gov.uk website under information on drivers’ vision standards information. It says that this can be tested by opticians.

So what is it? We do not use our peripheral visual field for exploratory vision, but its sharp temporal sensitivity is key to navigating in response to sudden events.

You’ll recognise how you use it in supermarkets, when, in a split second, you avoid collisions with other shoppers and their trolleys, and kiddies appearing from behind.

Whether you are motoring, cycling or walking we largely avoid collisions through peripheral awareness and an optician will indeed test your visual field function quickly, cheaply and easily during your standard two-yearly eye examination.
Trouble is we’re not good at sticking to these exams. A Direct Line study in April 2016 revealed that 37 per cent of people had not had an eye test in the previous two years and you can lose 40 percent of your vision before you notice a problem.    In fact a Brake study in 2014 showed that 1.5 million UK motorists had never had their eyes tested.

And yet unlike other nations, the UK government thinks that self-assessment and self-reporting is good enough.  So we’re stuck with a set-up, where many of your fellow road-users have done nothing since they were 17 when they read a car registration plate at 20 meters to satisfy a driving test worker with no medical skills.

If that is the level of protection between you and a badly-sighted person driving a ton of metal, then we can safely call this a road safety disaster and a major public health risk.  Self-assessment is not fit for purpose with today’s traffic levels and faster cars.

I’m sure that not one of those 1.5 drivers unveiled by Brake would be able to tell you what the minimum visual field for safe driving is.  It was actually set by Moorfields Eye Hospital and the minimum is a field of vision of at least 120o on the horizontal meridian, should you want to know.

 The blindingly obvious solution to this #DrivingBlind crisis is for a change in regulation so drivers are required to provide evidence from an optical professional that their eyes are roadworthy before they get their licence and then at regular intervals over their driving career.

I’m campaigning on the streets of Bath and have been providing free eye examinations over two days during the Driving Blind campaign at Ellis & Killpartrick, 18 New Bond Street Bath. 01225 466954

Please say NO to Driving Blind and sign the petition now.