Eye test has driver seeing double

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A learner driver was told she could not sit her restricted licence test after failing an eye screening test at the Nelson AA, only to pass the same test in Richmond just hours later.

But David McLister, the AA driver and vehicle licensing general manager, says four people have checked both machines and that they are working “correctly”.

An 18 year old girl, who did not want to be named, booked her restricted licence practical test online and was told to be there 30 minutes prior. But because there was a large queue of customers, the girl only had ten minutes to spare when she was served at the counter.

“Because it’s a simple test they get you to go through a couple of things and she failed me straight away. There was supposed to be three columns of letters but I could only see two.”

Once the eye test was completed and failed, the girl was told there was not enough time to put the driving examination on hold as she intended to get a clearance from a local optometrist. She was then informed she would have to pay an extra $88 to re-book the driving test – a fee that was later cleared by the AA when they sent out a voucher and an apology. “I had to wait in line for so long so by the time they told me I had failed it was 12:40pm and the test was at 12:45pm. I found an optometrist that could get me in right then but they couldn’t hold out. They said I had to be there at 12:45pm or I couldn’t sit it.”

She was given the option of a second test, but again the results were the same.

On her way home, knowing she had passed the exact same eye test at the Richmond AA agency just a year prior when obtaining her learners licence, she walked in and requested an eye test – which she passed perfectly. “I was so mad. I was already so frustrated because they sat me through a two minute test and told me I had bad eye sight. I had been to optometrists before who had told me my eye sight is perfect.”

The next day the girl, who had an eye operation when she was five years old, booked in for a full visual examination at a local optometrist, which she passed with flying colours and was then able to re-book her driving test.

David says more than one million eye examinations are done every year through AA and that five per cent of those fail with only half needing corrective lenses.