Hundreds of drivers have been taken off the roads following eyesight tests from Government appointed opticians which have now been proven to be giving false results. However, the DVLA is refusing to compensate drivers, several of whom were forced to sell their cars and pay out for taxis to get them around, as it is blaming the makers of the test equipment for the problem.
Over the course of 2015, the DVLA has contacted over 600 motorists after it discovered that a field vision analyser, used by DVLA optometrists since 2010 in order to assess competency to drive, is unreliable. Around 80% of drivers who were offered the chance to be re-assessed have since had their licenses restored.
One 78 year old driver, Derek Harlow, is among those who were wrongly banned. He lost his licence in 2013, alongside a lifeline for him and his disabled wife. However, in August 2015 Mr Harlow was given a letter which invited him to be re-assessed and he was told that he was perfectly able to drive.
He said of the ordeal:
“When the initial elation subsided, I felt aggrieved that my life has been disrupted so needlessly. I have complained to the DVLA but have received a ‘not-our-fault’ letter obviously encouraging me to take no further action. Surely the DVLA cannot absolve itself of the responsibility having contracted specific opticians to carry out the eye tests on its behalf? I had no choice as to which optician to use.”
Mr.Harlow was forced to sell his Vauxhall Corsa when he lost his licence, since replacing it with a Toyota Yaris after having his licence replaced.
Under certain DVLA rules, drivers with medical conditions are required to reapply for their licence every 1-3 years. Part of this is a paid for optometrical test at a DVLA appointed optician, where people have to track flashing lights whilst focusing on an object. However, the DVLA found that the equipment used was faulty, meaning that the lights were not shining as brightly as they should have been.