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Thousands North West Motorists Driving Illegally

Tuesday, 06 July 2010

In a survey of more than 1,600 drivers across the region, 14 per cent were unable to read a standard number plate from a distance of 20.5 metres - as required in the standard driving test.


And more than one in three are taking to the roads without having had a recent eye examination.


The shocking figures mean that thousands of motorists across the region are driving illegally, uninsured, and are putting countless lives at risk.


Robbie Byrne, North West regional chairman of Specsavers, who carried out the research, says: 'These findings truly are shocking.


'It was recently revealed the North West has the most dangerous roads in the UK* and, with these figures, it's no wonder.


'Our eyesight deteriorates gradually over time and so problems can go unnoticed, which is why it is important for anybody who drives to have their vision tested at least once every two years.'


While motorists are not required by law to have regular eye tests, it is illegal to drive with uncorrected poor vision - carrying a fine of up to £1,000, three penalty points and possible disqualification.


It can also render any insurance invalid, leaving motorists open to a further charge of driving while uninsured - which carries a maximum fine of £5,000 and between six and eight points.


Specsavers stores across the region carried out the number plate tests as part of the brand's Drive Safe campaign to boost road safety.


As well as revealing the number of motorists who should not be getting behind the wheel without corrective eyewear - either glasses or contact lenses - the study also found that 34 per cent of motorists had not had an eye test in the past two years.


That included nearly a sixth of those who were unable to read the number plate accurately.


Mr Byrne adds: 'When it comes to road safety, a regular eye test is obviously crucial in ensuring you are fit to drive - but it is so much more than that.


'As well as checking your vision, a professional eye test can also spot warning signs of serious eye conditions such as glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration - as well as some brain conditions or even tumours.'



* The Road Safety Foundation recently found the average risk on single carriageway roads was found to be higher in North West England than anywhere else in Britain. For more information, visit: www.roadsafetyfoundation.com

Issued by Beattie Communications on behalf of Specsavers in the North West

Drive Safe Campaign Editor’s Notes

Specsavers and NOP surveyed 2,000 people and found that 22% of British drivers who need glasses or contact lenses have knowingly driven without them, putting themselves and others at risk.

The study found that 22% of British drivers who need glasses or contact lenses have knowingly driven without them, putting themselves and others at risk. And it is mostly younger drivers who are guilty. 35% of 17-24 year olds do not always drive with their eyewear compared to about 20% of 45-54 year olds.

Further research conducted this year by Specsavers found that 87% of drivers are in favour of compulsory eye examinations for drivers every five years, particularly for the over 40s.

Specsavers notes to editors April 2010

· Specsavers was founded by Doug and Dame Mary Perkins in 1984 and is now the largest privately owned opticians in the world

· The couple still run the company, along with their three children. Their son John is joint managing director

· Specsavers has more than 1,500 stores throughout the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Spain, Australia and New Zealand.

· Annual turnover for the Specsavers Group was £1.36 billion for 2009/10 and is forecast to reach £1.55 billion in 2010/11.

· Specsavers optical stores and hearing centres are owned and run by joint venture or franchise partners

· Specsavers employs more than 26,000 staff

· Specsavers was voted Britain’s most trusted brand of opticians for the ninth year running by the Reader’s Digest Trusted Brands survey 2010

· More than one in three people who wear glasses in the UK buy them from Specsavers * – 9,700,000 glasses were exported from the warehouse to stores in 2009

· Specsavers was ranked No 1 for both eye tests and glasses in the UK *

· Over 70% (4.5m) of all Specsavers eye tests in the UK are NHS-funded.

· Specsavers share by volume of the total optical market (including retailers that are not opticians) is 34%. Our share of the opticians market is 39%.*

· Specsavers is the largest retail provider of home delivery contact lenses in Europe and one of the top two retail suppliers of continuous wear lenses in the world

· Specsavers is now the largest retail dispenser of digital hearing aids in the UK and offers a hearing service from more than 400 locations

· Specsavers supports numerous optical and hearing charities, including Guide Dogs and Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. During its three-year support for Diabetes UK it raised more than £250,000 to fund research into diabetic retinopathy

· Since 2003 more than a quarter of a million glasses have been collected and recycled by Specsavers stores for Vision Aid Overseas, for use in developing countries. Specsavers stores across Britain raised more than £300,000 in 2009 to fund a dedicated eyecare clinic and teaching facility in Zambia, supported by Vision Aid Overseas. Stores will raise an additional £300,000 to continue the project.