Jackie McCord knows first-hand the dangers of driving without proper vision correction. In 2011, she lost her teenage daughter, Cassie, to a man who had failed a police eye-test just days before. After a successful national campaign to get the law changed, she says much work is still needed.
“When you renew your insurance, your car needs to be taxed, have an MOT and be deemed road-worthy. Why don’t the drivers have to be deemed road-worthy? For me an eyesight test is the bare minimum.”
Jackie McCord is passionate about the issue of perfect eyesight whilst driving, and with good reason. On Monday February 7 2011, her teenage daughter Cassie was killed by a car that mounted the pavement. The driver had failed a police eye test the previous Friday and been told not to drive. Hearing that the police had been in the middle of trying to get the license revoked, Cassie’s family launched a national petition campaign to speed up the process. In February 2013, “Cassie’s Law” was passed. It enabled police to get licences revoked quicker via a dedicated hotline.
“The fact that had the police been able to do something on that Friday, Cassie would still be alive today tugged at people’s heart strings. The more we did interviews and it got out into the press, the more people realised ‘actually there is a problem here and that could be our children and our grandchildren that could be impacted in the same way’,” says Jackie McCord.
However, she says that although the campaign raised public awareness, the issue still does not get the attention it deserves. “I think there is a lot more that can be done. There are an awful lot of people still out there that don’t realise that if your eyesight isn’t up to scratch, you are driving illegally and shouldn’t be driving. They don’t seem to realise that in effect it’s as dangerous as driving drunk or under the influence of drugs.”
More than that, Jackie says the only official eye-test drivers take in the UK is given by examiners on first taking the test, usually at 17. Any eye-sight component in the licences from then on, including when drivers reapply at 70, is self-certified. This does not go far enough in her opinion.
With about 90% of drivers’ decisions depending on vision, it is perhaps not surprising that research links 59% of accidents to poor sight.
“When you get to 70, you fill out a form to say yes, you are fit for driving, you don’t have any medical conditions… and you get your license for another three years. If you have got dementia or Alzhiemer’s – or have failing eyesight that has gradually come on – how are you fit to say whether you are capable of driving or not?” she asks.
Poor vision is a factor in as many as 3,000 driving-related a year in the UK, putting costs at around £33 million, according to statistics published by the UK Think About Your Eyes campaign that Jackie McCord has supported. With about 90% of drivers’ decisions depending on vision, it is perhaps not surprising that research links 59% of accidents to poor sight.
For more information on the Think About Your Eyes campaign, visit www.thinkaboutyoureyes.co.uk