Hindsight is 20/20.
One year after eliminating eye exams from driver’s license renewal tests, the South Carolina legislature is reconsidering. The State House will hear testimony Wednesday on a proposal that would reinstate the required vision screenings.
The motivation comes from eye doctors who hope to make roads safer by ensuring everybody who’s driving them can see. However, the Department of Motor Vehicles does not agree.
According to South Carolina DMV Director Kevin Shwedo, the mandatory exams are not effective and just increase already long wait times, The Herald reported.
“All we’re doing is adding a bureaucratic function to an already stressed system to increase the lines and send more people to the optometrist’s office,” Shwedo told The Herald.
South Carolina dropped the eye exams last year when passing legislature to make its state IDs compliant with federal standards established in the REAL ID Act. After optometrists protested, 17 members of the state House signed a proposal to bring back the exam.
“A core function of state government is to ensure the public safety,” said State Rep. Jason Elliott, the lead sponsor of the bill. “A critical and important and necessary part of safely driving a vehicle is being able to see.”
South Carolina is one of 12 states (plus Washington, D.C.) that does not require its citizens to undergo a vision exam when renewing their driver’s licenses.
A study from CarInsuranceComparison.com rated South Carolina drivers as the sixth worst in the country, and the state has the highest traffic fatality rate in the country (per 100 million vehicle miles traveled). Despite that, the South Carolina Department of Public Safety reported a 5-percent drop in highway fatalities from 2016 to 2017.