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Eyesight test distance is slashed, prompting concerns from road safety group

By: Laura Nineham
09 February 2011

EU proposals to make the eyesight element of a driving test easier will make Britain's roads much more dangerous for anyone with driving jobs, a road safety group has claimed.

Ministers want to slash the minimum distance from which a motorist is expected to read a number plate, as part of a bid to standardise rules across Europe.

They want to drop the distance from 20 metres to 17.5, and The Telegraph reported that the government is ready to adopt this after a series of lab safety tests.

"The current eyesight test as part of the driving test is wholly inadequate and these new changes will put further lives at risk on our roads," said a spokeswoman for road safety group Brake.

"Brake is calling for a full eye test as part of the driving test in the UK."

However, road safety minister, Mike Penning, said that cutting the distance doesn't pose a safety risk. He added: "We must make sure that only those who are safe to drive are allowed on our roads, while at the same time avoiding placing unnecessary restrictions on people's independence."

Rob Gifford, executive director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety, didn't agree, and admitted that he was worried about the plans.

"To take it down a bit - I would be cautious about going ahead with this," he said. "I cannot think of any benefits at all to be honest. I can appreciate that it may not be a great difference but as the saying goes, if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

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