Company car drivers could lose licences at roadside

  • Drivers failing sight test can lose licence at road side
  • DVLA's faster response to police requests key to new power
  • Aim is to reduce accidents and save lives

New rules mean police can seize a company car driver’s licence within minutes of them failing a roadside eyesight test.

Previously the police would have to wait up to four days before the DVLA could revoke a driver’s licence and the law could be enforced to ban the person from driving.

Now the police can inform the DVLA from the roadside using mobile email if a driver fails an eye test. The government agency can then revoke the driver’s licence by email return so potentially he police can ban the person from getting behind the wheel of the car within minutes.

The aim is to cut accidents and road deaths caused by drivers with poor sight. Prior to the rule change the police had to inform the DVLA via fax or in writing about a driver failing a roadside eye test so it could take up to four days before the law could be enforced and action taken.

Problems were occurring because drivers that failed the roadside eye test could still carry on driving risking their lives and the lives of others by continuing to use their vehicle. This issue was highlighted with the tragic case of Cassie Cord.

The 16-year-old student from Colchester was killed by driver Colin Horsfall as she walked along a pavement on her way to college in 2011.

Mr Horsfall had failed an eye test three days earlier after police stopped him when his car struck the exit of a petrol station. He refused to surrender his licence and police were in the process of having it revoked when Mr Horsfall drove into Ms Cord, killing her.

Ms McCord’s mother, Jackie McCord, led a high profile campaign including a petition signed by 45,000 people to force a change to the law, with the so-called ‘Cassie’s Law’.

Philip Hammond, road safety minister, announced the change and said: ‘All drivers have a responsibility to make sure they are fit to drive every time they get behind the wheel, and this includes making sure they meet minimum eyesight standards.’

He added: ‘The DVLA and the Police have worked closely to streamline the process for revoking a licence when the police identify that a driver’s eyesight is inadequate, which now means that any driver who fails to meet the necessary standard may have their licence revoked in a matter of hours rather than days.’

What the new rules mean:

  • Drivers must be able to read a UK-regulation number plate at 20 metres in daylight
  • Should any person fail that test, police can file a request from the roadside for the DVLA to revoke their licence
  • An email confirmation from the DVLA means police can seize the licence and prevent the person from driving
  • Police can only carry out a roadside eye test during daylight hours
  • Company car drivers should ensure they have a regular, annual eye test carried out