The Optical Confederation has expressed its concern regarding new DVLA proposals to extend medical licences for drivers from three years, to up to ten years. Although many agree with the proposed changes, the OC believes that such alterations to driving requirements will cause unnecessary added risks to road users as well as potentially damaging the message of how important regular eye examinations are.
Following a period of consultation, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency has seen a largely positive response to its suggestion to extend the licensing period for drivers with medical conditions from three years to up to ten, depending on the medical condition. Such proposals were put forward in an attempt to free examining doctors and professionals from having to assess patients when it was not necessary. In line with this, the patient would also benefit from not having to unduly attend hospital or practice appointments when not applicable. Currently, around 75% of all re-applicants are passed as fit to continue driving at their three year evaluation.
It is important to remember, that the increase from three to ten years is not a situation that will apply to everyone. Each case will be evaluated, with many continuing to be monitored every three years. This proposal focuses on giving medical professionals the opportunity to assess each persons abilities on a case by case basis, and should there be grounds for it, extending their medical licence to drive by an extra seven years, should they see fit.
The Optical Confederation, bucking the trend of many other organisations, believes this could cause undue risk to not only other road users and motorists, but the driver and their personal health. With a clear focus on visual conditions, the OC sees such measures affecting a clear and simple process for those with medical conditions. Even without a known vision issue, it is recommended that regular eye tests are undertaken by everyone to ensure that conditions don't deteriorate or symptoms go untreated. Such guidelines could simply create grey areas or confusion in regards to testing requirements and recommendations. As sight is such a fundamental part of driving and safety, the Optical Confederation has declared it's refusal to back such changes.