Elderly motorist fails eye test after driving wrong way and narrowly missing police car

An 87-year-old driver failed an eye test after narrowly missing a police car when he turned the wrong way onto a main road.

Officers had just left the A3 near at Ripley, in Surrey, when a Honda Jazz pulled out of a junction, forcing their vehicle to swerve out of the way.

Surrey police posted dash-cam footage of the near-miss on Sunday.

The incident occurred as police launched a crackdown on drivers with defective eyesight.

The force said the car continued the wrong way onto the dual carriageway before it was stopped and turned around.

The driver, an 87-year-old man from Woking, voluntarily surrendered his driving licence after failing a roadside eye test.

Police said he could only read a number plate from just 7.3m (24ft) away.

Police said the man was also reported for two offences, adding that the the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) will be informed.

Drivers are legally required to be able to read a registration plate from a distance of 20.5m (around 67ft).

Three police forces have launched an initiative to crack down on drivers with poor vision. Credit: PA

On Monday, Thames Valley, Hampshire and West Midlands police launched an initiative to tackle drivers with poor vision.

Every motorist stopped by roads police officers from three forces in September will be required to read a number plate from 20 metres.

Anyone who fails will have their driving licence immediately revoked.

The power was introduced in 2013 under Cassie's Law, named after 16-year-old Cassie McCord, who died when an 87-year-old man lost control of his vehicle in Colchester, Essex.

It later emerged he had failed a police eyesight test days earlier, but a legal loophole meant he was allowed to continue driving.

Data from the tests will be used to improve understanding of the extent of poor driver vision.

Credit: PA

Sergeant Rob Heard, representing the police forces taking part in the campaign, said: "Not being able to see a hazard or react to a situation quickly enough can have catastrophic consequences."

He warned that officers will be carrying out eyesight checks "at every opportunity".

Brake and Vision Express are calling for a recent eye test to be required when licences are renewed every 10 years.

Under current rules, the only mandatory examination of vision takes place during the practical test, when learners must read a number plate from 20 metres.

Once someone has obtained their licence, it is up to them to tell the DVLA if they have a problem with their eyesight.

Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake, said: "It is frankly madness that there is no mandatory requirement on drivers to have an eye test throughout the course of their driving life.

"Only by introducing rigorous and professional eye tests can we fully tackle the problem of unsafe drivers on our roads."

Research by the Association of Optometrists published in November last year found that more than a third (35%) of optometrists saw patients in the previous month who continued to drive despite being told their vision was below the legal standard.

A 2012 study by insurance firm RSA estimated that poor vision caused 2,874 casualties in a year.

Jonathan Lawson, chief executive of Vision Express, said: "We believe official Government statistics on the impact of poor sight on road safety are the tip of the iceberg and we know the public feel the same as we do about tackling poor driver vision."

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: "The human cost of driving with failing eyesight and having an accident can be immeasurable.

"Drivers mustn't just keep their eyes on the road, they must ensure they can see what's ahead."