Some of the skills you are required to demonstrate during a driving test are debatable. For example, does knowing how to parallel park really make you a better driver?
But, there is one ability that seems important and not up for debate – the ability to see.
Yet, South Carolina lawmakers decided last year to do away with eye exams as part of the process of renewing a driver’s license. In hindsight, legislators are now wondering if the move was shortsighted.
Does the failure to test drivers’ vision as a requirement for a driver’s license lead to more auto accidents in SC?
Why Was Vision Screening Dropped in SC?
SC dropped the eye exam when legislators redesigned SC driver’s licenses to meet new federal security requirements. Other states that have made the transition are now dealing with long lines, so the SCDMV asked lawmakers writing the Real ID legislation to do away with the eye exam to shorten the time required to renew licenses.
Lawmakers rushed the process of upgrading the state’s driver’s licenses because, without them, SC residents could be denied access to airports or federal facilities. Some legislators have said if they’d had more time, they would have fought to keep the vision screening requirement.
Long Lines and Bureaucratic Waste
Kevin Shwedo, the director of the SC Department of Motor Vehicles, insists that reintroducing eye exams will mean unacceptably long lines at the DMV. If you can see well enough to fill out the forms to renew your license, he says, you can see well enough to drive.
Shwedo says that the other 11 states that have dropped the eye exam requirement have seen no increase in the number of car accidents.
Bringing back the eye exam would only clog up DMV offices and inconvenience the state’s drivers, according to Shwedo. More than a million people who can, under the current requirements, renew their license online would have to instead visit a DMV office and take the eye exam.
Is Safety More Important than Reducing Wait Time at the DMV?
But, some lawmakers counter that making sure everyone can see before they get behind the wheel is more important than keeping DMV lines short.
They are pushing a new bill that would reinstate the vision screenings as part of the renewal process. The SC Optometric Physicians Association helped write the bill.
A driver is more likely to speed – or to drive dangerously slowly – if they can’t read the speed limit signs. Drivers struggling to read exit signs are distracted and more likely to disrupt traffic patterns or cut off another driver. And who wants to be a pedestrian or bicyclist crossing the street in front of a near-blind driver?
That’s why state Rep. Jason Elliott, R-Greenville, is the lead sponsor of the bill to bring back eye exams.
“A critical and important and necessary part of safely driving a vehicle is being able to see,” Elliott said.
Seems like common sense…
SC Auto Accident Lawyers in Myrtle Beach, Conway, Charleston, and Columbia
It remains to be seen whether the failure to test vision is resulting in more SC auto accidents. One thing is for sure – if you are hit by another car because the other driver was having trouble seeing, they are going to be at-fault and responsible for your damages.
Your Myrtle Beach auto accident attorney at Coastal Law will help you to determine who was responsible for the accident and collect the money you are owed from the at-fault person or their insurance company. Call us now at (843) 488-5000 or fill out our online form to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case.