Sheffield Heeley MP Meg Munn has been awarded Brake and Direct Line’s Road Safety Parliamentarian of the Month Award for her campaign to introduce regular eye tests for drivers.
In 2009, Meg was contacted by constituent Joy Barnes whose niece Fiona Buckley was run over and killed while crossing the road in 2008 by a driver with defective eyesight (see case study below).
This moved Meg to start a campaign for driver eye tests to be carried out by qualified practitioners using a scientifically-recognised method – instead of the current limited number-plate test – and for drivers to be re-tested at least every 10 years, at the same time as applying for a new licence photocard. The campaign also aims to raise awareness among drivers of the importance of getting their eyes tested at least every two years.
Over the past two years, Meg has lobbied government, asking questions in Parliament and leading debates. The campaign has received support from national organisations including Brake, Eye Health Alliance, Specsavers and The Optical Confederation, who recognise the evidence that the current regime is inadequate in protecting the public from drivers with defective eyesight.
In February 2011 the government announced proposals to make the current test even easier, by reducing the distance from which drivers have to read a number-plate to just 17 metres. Meg responded by working with Brake to call on the government to abandon its proposals and listen to public demand for regular eyesight testing.
During Road Safety Week 2011, coordinated by Brake, Meg carried out a media campaign urging drivers to consider whether their eyesight would meet the minimum requirements, including through an interview on BBC Radio Sheffield and coverage in the Sheffield Star and Sheffield Telegraph.
Meg intends to continue to lobby the government until appropriate action is taken to ensure all drivers have the required standard of eyesight for driving on UK roads.
Julie Townsend, Brake campaigns director, said: “As a charity that supports families devastated by road deaths and injuries, we recognise how vital it is to ensure all drivers have good eyesight. Being able to see clearly is fundamental to safe, responsible driving. We hope to see common sense winning through: to make our roads safer we need a scientific eyesight test carried out at the start of your driving career and regularly throughout it. We would like to thank Meg for her continued hard work pushing this vital issue.”
Meg Munn MP said: “I’m delighted to have been awarded Road Safety Parliamentarian of the month. Having your eyes tested is such a simple thing, and we know it saves lives. I’d encourage all drivers to have their eyes tested regularly.”